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Casino operator donates $1.5M for fixes to Islandia ballfield

The First Responders Memorial Recreation Field is dedicated

The First Responders Memorial Recreation Field is dedicated to five local first responders who died at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

A languishing ballfield in the heart of Islandia is getting an extensive makeover funded with donations, including more than $1 million from casino operator Delaware North.

Village Mayor Allan Dorman and several officials gathered yesterday at the ballfield on Old Nichols Road to break ground on the reborn 7-acre First Responders Memorial Recreation Field. The park is dedicated to the memory of five first responders who worked for local fire departments and died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The town transferred ownership of the ballfield, which was once an Islip town park, to Islandia in 2013 at no cost with help from state elected officials. Dorman had plans to renovate the fields with a $1.8 million proposal, but no progress was made until last year, when Delaware North agreed to donate $1.53 million to the project as a condition of opening the Jake’s 58 casino in the former Islandia Marriott.

“As an amenity, they agreed to fund a very large portion of this,” Dorman said, and added that Delaware North’s community spirit is appreciated.

“We welcomed Delaware North and Jake’s 58 to our community. We welcomed them with open arms,” Dorman said.

At the groundbreaking, Brian Hansberry, president of Delaware North’s gaming division, said the company was happy to be a part of the project.

Bolla Market gas stations donated $500,000 to build restrooms, a storage area and a concession stand, and Breslin Realty donated $100,000. The renovated park will also feature a playground, a separate fitness field with 10 exercise stations and walking trail, and dugouts for the baseball and softball teams.

Dorman expects the ballfield to be finished by October and league games to start next year. Ballgames are by permit, but the park will be open to the public.

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