The new Riverhead town ballfield complex in Calverton -- about three years behind schedule -- will officially have an opening day Saturday with a parade of 500 Little Leaguers.
The four new fields -- where Riverhead Parks and Recreation superintendent Ray Coyne said the closest fence is 310 feet from home plate -- are expected to relieve pressure on the town to find space for rapidly growing adult leagues. They had made scheduling difficult for Little League games at the 12-acre Stotzky Park in Riverhead's Polishtown section.
"The fields at Stotzky Park are 250 feet," Coyne said. The three other fields in the new 62-acre complex are designed for softball.
When Riverhead officials hired Coyne in 2005, they were talking about creating the ballfield complex even then.
Its design was changed several times during planning and construction at the Enterprise Park, a former Grumman manufacturing site.
The project was originally budgeted at $5 million, but the town ran out of money, so the original plans were cut in half, leaving out things such as night lighting, even though the wires to carry power to the fields were put underground.
"We don't have $900,000 for light posts," Supervisor Sean Walter said. "We'll have them some day, absolutely."
Multipurpose fields for sports such as soccer and a playground will also be added in the next few years, he said.
The town awarded a $538,635 contract to LandTek of Amityville last year to finish up, putting in batting fields, batting cages, bullpens, walkways and fencing.
The complex will have portable toilets for now, but a concession building and office are planned. The wish list also includes scoreboards.
"We couldn't use our old ones. They were broken, and it would cost less to buy new ones than to fix them," Coyne said.
Counting all the engineering and design work and subdivision efforts, the town has spent close to $3 million on the project, most of which came from recreation fees paid by developers.