Now that Toronto City Council has voted to waive the fee hikes for using city owned fields, kids can get back to playing sports. And for the kids at Smythe park, a donation from the Blue Jays could make playing baseball that much more enjoyable.
On April 10, city council voted unanimously to accept a gift on behalf of the Jays Care foundation. The $175,000 donation will be used to refurbish Smyth Park, located on Jane St., just north of Dundas St. west.
Peter Zakkak, 45, the president of the York Baseball Association, has been with the organization for 20 years. Zakkak, who spearheaded the initiative, said the main baseball diamond needed to be fixed.
“It needed an update,” he said. “The park is 50 years old and the fences and benches are falling apart”
In the 1920’s the area was owned by Toronto Maple Leaf legend Conn Smythe. Smythe operated a gravel pit from the area and when the pit was used up, the land was developed and eventually donated to the city for use as a park space. Today, there is a small plaque near the outdoor pool detailing the donation from Smythe.
Zakkak told the foundation to let him know of their desicion before the end of last season. Zakkak said he wanted to share the news with the people that mattered most, the youth..
“I announced it to the kids during the closing ceremonies last September,” he said. “People were very excited.”
Rob Richardson is the manager of partnership development for parks, forestry and recreation for the city of Toronto . Richardson said work on the baseball diamond will begin in the fall once the 2012 season concludes.
“We are going to be replacing the infield and the backstops,” he said. “We will also be switching the fields over to a clay product.”
Richardson went on to say that Toronto has a long standing relationship with Jays Care foundation, but he said this donation is especially unique.
“This is the largest single investment that Jays care has made,” he said.
Danielle Bedasse is the executive director for the Jays Care Foundation, the charitable wing of the Jays. Bedasse said that Jays Care has given donations to 29 projects over the last 12 years, 13 of them being baseball fields.
“We hope that it encourages more kids to play baseball at that park,” she said.