Roughly a dozen members of Boy Scout Troop 824 in Baldwin spent the better part of Saturday morning digging out a section of lawn at Baldwin Park to make way for the construction of new batting cages so Baldwin Sports Little League players can practice their swings.
Thomas Hopkins, 15, of Baldwin, a candidate for Eagle Scout — scouting’s highest honor — organized the project for the park, which is owned by the Town of Hempstead.
Hopkins, a sophomore at Kellenberg High School in Uniondale, said he proposed the project as a way to add value to the community. He personally raised $2,700 to support it by selling popcorn around Baldwin for more than two years -- at the Long Island Rail Road station, at school games and at various community events.
Local sponsors — including Island Wide Pressure Washing, Chris’ Service Center, Baldwin Little League, Baldwin Babe Ruth and the Long Island Royals — also played major roles in the project, donating money or equipment, or volunteering.
When all is done, there will be four batting cages, which will be located toward the front of Baldwin Park, by its two baseball fields. The cages’ cement foundation is already in place.
“The only way we’re going to have improvement down there is if we do it ourselves,” said Thomas Reilly, treasurer of the 250-member Baldwin Sports Little League.
“We got the permit through the Town of Hempstead,” he added. “Everything we put in there is donated to the Town of Hempstead.”
“Everything’s going well, way ahead of schedule,” Rob Oliveri, Sports Little League’s vice president, said on Saturday. “We plan on having cement done by the end of the day, and batting cages up by next Saturday.”
Once finished, the cages will be open to the public, but priority will be given to sports teams that schedule practice sessions. Sign-up for sessions will be at the park.
“We work hard to get sponsors so that we can do this stuff…” Reilly said. “Hopefully people see that we do things like this and build up the program.”
The Sports Little League will unveil the completed project at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on its opening day, April 22.
At the same time as the batting-cage project, the Sports Little League held a Meet the Coaches event at Baldwin Middle School. The league is still seeking sponsors and donations to support the new batting cages.