Just in time for the baseball season, Riverhead elected officials will gather for the grand opening of the long-awaited ballfields at Enterprise Park at Calverton.
Councilman George Gabrielsen, Councilman John Dunleavy and Riverhead Little League President Tony Sammartano announced plans Wednesday for opening day ceremonies, to be held at Veterans Memorial Park.
Ceremonies will start at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 27, followed by ball games; a rain date is scheduled for April 28.
Participants will include Little League, the VFW, Boy Scouts, fire departments and other community groups.
The ceremony will mark the opening of not only the four ballfields but also the 62-acre park.
Two of the ballfields will be dedicated in honor of Sgt. Jonathan Keller and SFC Anthony Venetz Jr, two soldiers who served in Afghanistan and gave their lives for their country.
"Through the efforts of the entire town board, we have made this dream a reality," Gabrielsen said.
Gabrielsen the ballfields symbolize a project that has spanned eight years. But, he said, when he was elected to office three years ago, the "project had been basically abandoned -- it was going nowhere. The town was low on money."
The councilman, who served on the town's recreation committee before being elected to his current post, said no New York State Department of Transportation permits had been acquired when he took office; a decison was made by the town board, Gabrielsen said, to see the project -- into which the town had already invested $1.5 million of dedicated recreation and development funds -- to fruition.
"This is a big deal," Gabrielesen said. "It's a beautiful field. It's great for the community."
And, he said, the project is a "win-win" for residents, with the 62-acre park a community resource replete with hiking trails, ballfields, a soccer field to come, and places for residents and families to gather.
Over the past months, some questions have arisen regarding lights at the ballfieldsand overrun costs. But with the plans and work completed, the ballfields are ready to open.
"On behalf of the recreation department, we are very excited," Riverhead Town Recreation Director Ray Coyne said.