LITTLE FALLS — Teams competing in this weekend’s National Junior College Athletic Association Region III Division III Tournament at Veterans Memorial Park may notice some changes from the last time they were there.
Over the past several weeks, contractors, with in-kind services from the Little Falls Department of Public Works, have worked on improvements at the ballpark and tennis and basketball courts through the help of state grants.
Little Falls Mayor Mark Blask reviewed the improvements at the field Thursday. He said among them is a new, fully programmable, wireless LED scoreboard, which is 30-feet by 40-feet.
"It will be around for a long time," he said.
Six new pedestrian safety lights — all LED — were also installed as part of the project.
For the basketball court, Blask said there are brand new rims and backboards. The basketball court and two tennis courts have been resurfaced and restriped as part of the project, he said.
"This hasn’t happened in about 45 years," said Blask, which is about the age of the field.
Blask said improvements also included remodeled bathrooms at the park.
The city was awarded a $484,000 New York State Municipal Parks Grant in 2014 to make improvements to the park, but didn’t move ahead with the project because of the 25 percent match required.
The city was awarded $100,000 through state Sen. James Seward’s office to provide most of the matching funds.
The city’s Common Council had rejected initial bids for the project in May 2017. In August, the city awarded a contract to Patricia Electric, which submitted a bid of $414,000, to do the work at the field.
Blask said work started about six weeks ago, "as soon as the snow melted."
Work was originally supposed to begin in the fall.
"We wanted the high school team to be able to use it," he said. "It’s a field for the kids in Little Falls."
Among the teams that play at the field are the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs, who will open their Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League season at home Friday, June 1. The Dawgs will host the Watertown Rapids at 6:45 p.m.
Herkimer County Community College’s baseball team earned the No. 1 seed in this weekend’s tournament with a pair of victories over Onondaga Community College in Sunday’s sub-regionals.
Coach Jason Rathbun’s Generals — 32-6 and riding a 17-game winning streak — will host the Region III championships Friday through Sunday at Veterans Memorial Park.
Top-seeded Herkimer, ranked fourth in the latest NJCAA Division III poll, plays fourth-seeded Erie Community College at 2 p.m. today in the opener of the double-elimination tournament. Second-seeded Niagara Community College plays third-seeded Hudson Valley Community College in the 5 p.m. game.
Three games are scheduled for noon, 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Sunday’s final is set for noon, with a Game 7 — if necessary — starting at 3:30 p.m.