One thing missing from the grand opening of the long-awaited Central Islip Little League fields was the crack of a bat.
The long-awaited fields, built by developer Andy Borgia on Eastview Drive, were broken in with hot dogs, face painting and the quintessential first pitch on Friday night. Local politicians lauded the project as a community victory.
"This has been a multiyear project to get here," said Islip Town Councilman Steven Flotteron, standing with Borgia. "When government works with the private sector in the community, great things can happen, all at no cost to the taxpayers."
In 2010, Borgia, builder of the Baseball Heaven sports complex in Yaphank, made a deal with the town to build a $45 million, 300,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor sports complex on the old Little League fields at Carleton Avenue.
As part of the pact, he agreed to build new, updated fields for the Little League club on Eastview Drive, about a half-mile away.
But financing and permitting delays mired the $2 million project to build the new fields in turmoil. The Little League club was left frustrated, unsure where they would play from one season to the next.
On Friday, as Flotteron welcomed the community to what he called "the new home of Central Islip Little League," no one from the league was present.
Club president Joe Hennie said their absence wasn't intended as a slight. "We got the notice on Tuesday. It's been a very hectic week, and it was coming to the end of the summer and a lot of people just weren't around," Hennie said. "We just got the notice a little too late to come out."
Saturday, the group played fall ball games at their old fields on Carleton Avenue because of a minor issue with one of the new fields, league officials said.
But on Eastview Drive on Friday night, community members and local politicians seemed relieved that the fields -- three Little League, two tee-ball, one softball, and a multipurpose field for soccer or lacrosse -- were finally in place.
"The fields are beautiful," said Central Islip resident Amparo Sadler. "They're gorgeous. I can't think of anything better. . . . Now they have a good place, a new place, that they can call their own."
Now that the fields are complete, Borgia can begin on the Ultimate Game Sports complex. Permits are in the works, and Borgia said he hopes to break ground before the end of the year on the first phase of the project.