On Eastview Drive in Central Islip, future baseball fields are being seeded, watered and prepared for the spring 2013 season, when the hamlet's Little League is slated to break them in with cleats and bubble gum.
After Central Islip Little League is situated on its new $2 million fields, developer Andy Borgia says he will be able to turn its old lot -- about half a mile west on Carleton Avenue -- into the 300,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor Ultimate Game Sports Complex.
A condition of the town's decision in 2010 to lease the land to Borgia to build there was that he provide the Little League a new home.
For several years, there was no progress, which Central Islip Little League president Joe Hennie said frustrated his organization because they did not know from one season to the next where they would play.
But in the last month, he said he's gotten direct answers from Borgia and the town and has seen work done at the site of the new fields. There's even a sign that reads "Future home of Central Islip Little League" with the expected opening date of next spring and the town board members' names in red.
"I think everybody has their heart in the right place now," Hennie said. "I think the focus will be finishing this project and being ready for opening day 2013."
Borgia, who pays $115,000 annually to the town in rent, said the 36-acre, $43 million sports complex will have private indoor and outdoor fields for baseball, soccer, lacrosse and football and a day care center and food court. It's being billed as a regional attraction, and has been named as a possible future home for the Long Island Lizards lacrosse team.
"We estimate that 2.5 million people will be passing through here every year, and we estimate that at least half a million of them will be coming from out of state," Borgia said. The complex will create 80 to 100 jobs with average annual wages of $35,000 to $45,000, he said, and employment preference would be given to Central Islip residents.
Borgia said he hopes the outdoor fields will be completed by next summer and aims to have the whole project done by summer 2014. In 2011, the project was stalled for months as the developer and the town negotiated financing, makeup and timeline.
Now, private financing is in place, and Borgia is waiting for county approval on permit applications.
Councilman Steve Flotteron, a longtime proponent of the project, said it's a needed improvement for an area with a "rough reputation," where there were 91 incidents of violent crime in 2011, according to Suffolk County police. He added that taxpayers aren't being billed for the improvements, and at the end of the 50-year lease, the town will own the complex.
"If all things fail, I will have new fields and $2 million of capital improvement," Flotteron said. "We never spend that much of our own money for capital improvement on parks, so this was a good business deal."