Group pushing for cricket pitch

Lisa Grogan-Green is dreaming big. If she and a group named the Valley Park Go Green Cricket Field get their way, Thorncliffe Park will soon be home to a world-class cricket pitch.
Plans are underway for the revitalization of the schoolyard at Valley Park Middle School, located at the corner of Don Mills Road and Overlea Boulevard — the central, defining feature of what could be a full-sized cricket pitch.
Grogan-Green, co-chair of the committee, said the plan would make use of a yard that currently doesn’t serve the community’s needs.
“Right now, the yard in the summer and on weekends is underutilized,” she said. “Everybody that we’ve spoken to in the community is very excited about it.”
Valley Park principal Nick Stefanoff, who also co-chairs the committee, said the prospective cricket pitch will serve an untapped demand in the area.
“Cricket is so popular in the community, and we feel that would be an attraction for people,” he said.
Beyond the cricket pitch, other major features have been planned for the yard. They include an amphitheatre for outdoor performances, a baseball field and soccer pitch, practice cages, community gardens and a new running track — all in the name of enhancing learning at the school and welcoming the surrounding community.
“What we’re trying to do is make the school a real hub for the community… And try to bring the beauty of the valley into the schoolyard,” Stefanoff said. “Make it a place to be used by the community 24/7, basically.”
The school is currently open for community use from 3:30 to 8 p.m.
Grogan-Green envisions the revitalized field as opening up the outside of the school.
“In Thorncliffe Park, there’s a lack of land,” she said. “So we’re going to create something from nothing.”
The planning committee faces some hurdles, but members are confident they will be resolved in due time. They are looking to acquire adjacent lands from Toronto Hydro in order to carry out their complete vision.
Julie Dasoo, chair of the Valley Park Parent Council, said parents are on board.
“As soon as they hear about the (plans), they’re like,‘Oh, this is good!’” she said.
Dasoo pointed out the multiple planned uses of the yard that would benefit the community.
“We’re going to have the gardens. It’s not just for cricket,” she said. “Other people will have the opportunity to enjoy themselves – socializing, doing the gardening, sitting and playing with their kids, reading books.“
If all goes according to plan, the committee wants to break ground on July 1, 2011.
They’re currently working with neighbourhood organizations to apply for funding grants and will soon be accepting donations from private companies and corporations.
Grogan-Green said even the fundraising process will benefit members of the ‘priority neighbourhood.’
“We’re on track,” she said. “And the more that kids get out there and make the pitches for us, the more they will grow as people.”