Diethrick Park Proposal Would Cost ‘Tens Of Millions Of Dollars’
When the Chautauqua County Legislature axed $941,000 in its 2023 budget for a new soccer field at Jamestown Community College, county lawmakers said they were more interested in having a comprehensive plan for Diethrick Park.
Those plans are actually already in place, with a final cost to be determined, but expected to run “tens of millions of dollars.”
JCC Foundation Executive Director Maria Kindberg recently met with members of the legislature’s Audit and Control Committee and presented them a 12-step comprehensive plan for the Jamestown park, where the Tarp Skunks currently play. The renderings were done about a year ago by a firm in Buffalo.
The first phase is the complete renovation of the current stadium.
“It would include expanding its footprint slightly, so that instead of just housing a baseball field, it would be a multi-use field, including soccer, baseball and softball,” Kindberg said.
She noted that having a turfed field instead of the field they currently have would allow their teams to practice more. “We are far behind the curve when it comes to collegiate facilities,” she said. “In fact, our facilities at JCC are not up to the standard of most local high schools. We currently find ourselves having to use local high school facilities.”
Kindberg noted they do use high school fields at Falconer and Jamestown, but it’s not free. “Every time we have to move our teams off of campus, we have to pay to rent other facilities,” she said.
Kindberg stated, as others have before, that JCC relies on athletes, particularly international athletes, to stay in the residents halls, which generate money. “It’s becoming more and more difficult for us to recruit both local and international athletes because of the state of our athletic facilities,” she said.
Kindberg said they would like to add additional sports teams.
“Unfortunately we’re unable to do that because of the limited space that we have,” she said.
She said if JCC were able to upgrade its athletic field and stadium, it would be a countywide benefit. “We would like to be able to attract not only city athletes but also county athletes. There is certainly a lot that we could do with it if it were upgraded,” Kindberg said.
They would still continue the partnership with the Tarp Skunks, which plays in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.
Kindberg said they have explored having both the city of Jamestown and the college own Diethrick Park, but it doesn’t make financial sense.
“Because of the benefits with state funding, we decided it was of greater benefit to both the city and the college if the college were to own the facility outright because then we could draw state funding, which would be of great benefit and lessen the burden,” she said.
Legislator David Wilfong, R-Jamestown, said the field desperately needs to be replaced.
“That soccer field now is a swamp,” he said. “It’s right next to the Hundred Acres lot. Water comes up and floods the place. The facilities down there is very primitive and this would be a great boost for JCC.”
County Executive PJ Wendel expressed his support for the project, at least conceptually.
“This is much larger in scope. It looks at a 25 year plan, maybe more. It involves communities, but it also involves potentially increasing enrollment by affording those athletic opportunities to athletes,” he said, adding, “I think this is a huge investment in the community and a great start to put JCC on the map.”
There are about a dozen steps in the Sportsplex Feasibility Project that Kindberg provided to the committee.
She said when the sports complex was first proposed, she took it to area foundations, but they weren’t as interested. “I think for that reason, the project was scaled back to be a single soccer field,” Kindberg said.
After the turf field, which calls for the demolition of the existing field and build a multi-existing field for baseball, softball and soccer, the comprehensive plan proposes the following:
¯ Grandstand: The existing grandstand would be demolished in its entirety. A three-tiered grandstand would be installed in its place.
¯ Bleachers/sides of grandstand: Demolish the existing bleachers on either side of the grandstands. Replace with 1,000 aluminum seat bleachers.
¯ Existing building renovation: Changes would be made to the existing offices, locker rooms, trainer facilities, concessions, ticket offices, batting cages, metal bleachers and more.
¯ New campus entrance/outfield lockroom: Improvements would include locker room with toilets, janitor’s closet, softball bleachers, added parking, new sidewalk, roadway realignment, landscaping, entry plaza and memorial wall.
¯ Renovate existing restroom: Replace urinals and upgrade interior finishes.
¯ Turf field: This field, which would be an additional field, would be for baseball, softball and two for soccer. The first turf field only has one soccer field.
¯ Soap box derby: The plan calls for the asphalt track and access road to be removed. The track would be relocated on campus.
¯ Parking lot: No specifics were noted, but a new rendering was provided.
¯ Athletic training center, academic building: The existing building would be demolished and they would create a facility with the following: Smart classrooms, offices (four faculty and six coaches), training facility, toilet rooms, server/data closet, changing room, storage, conference room, along with circulation and infrastructure.
¯ Storage building: It would be 1,500 square feet and located near the baseball field.
None of the additional proposals were discussed at the meeting.
Kindberg admitted that the costs are likely “tens of millions of dollars” but couldn’t give any further specifics.
“We’re having the numbers done right now because it’s been so long since we last met with the architects,” she said.
Any projects approved would be divided among the county, JCC and New York state.
“It’s a very expensive, but as stated, it’s very comprehensive and will certainly serve the college and the community for decades,” Kindberg said.