A 50th anniversary celebration will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday for Custer Ball League at the township hall, 4925 East Dunbar Rd. More than 750 children participate in the league, which started in 1957 to encourage teamwork, fair play, and preservation of a national pastime - baseball.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, a ground-breaking ceremony is slated for the new 40-acre Monroe Township Park that will sit behind the township hall.
The 3-to-18-year-olds in the Custer league play at Custer Elementary's 11 baseball fields. Monroe Township Supervisor Alan Barron said that while the township has had "a verbal agreement" to use the school's facilities for 50 years, it is time to get its own digs.
"It is hard to do maintenance on facilities when you don't own the property," Mr. Barron said. "And, besides, schools right now have their own problems [with finances]."
The township already has installed the sewers, a road, and a parking lot, but the current phase for the new park is for 12 baseball diamonds at a cost of about $1.33 million. Verdeterre Contracting has been awarded the contract for the baseball diamond phase.
The next phase will include a nature hiking trial, a boundless playground - where kids with and without disabilities can play together - a basketball court, volleyball pit, tennis court, a picnic pavilion, and a fishing pond.
Mr. Barron said the total project could cost about $2.5 million.
He said the township has applied for Michigan Department of Natural Resource grants of up to $500,000.
He said the township will learn in September whether it received the grants.
He said the remainder of the cost likely will be paid through a 10-year loan, paid off through the township's general fund.
While the township's summer baseball league has been free to its residents for the first half-century, Mr. Barron said township residents soon may have to begin paying a fee to help support the new development. Nonresidents pay $22 to participate in the seven-week program.
He said fencing for the ball field is being put in this week and grass will be planted this fall.
The league started off in 1957 with six teams. This year it has 62.
There will be refreshments and a raffle at the groundbreaking and anniversary celebration at the park, 4925 East Dunbar Rd.