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INTRODUCING FRIENDS OF PELHAM SPORTS

May 16 , 2010 press release
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Pelham, New York, March 1, 2010. Pelham residents representing a wide cross-section of the community have formed a new organization named “Friends of Pelham Sports”. The group will raise money to improve sports and recreational facilities throughout the Town.

“With increasing fiscal pressures on state, local and School Board budgets, there is a need for an organization that can raise money privately to support improvements to our recreational programs and facilities,” said Tim Cassidy, President of the new group. Cassidy, who grew up in Pelham, has lived with his wife, Carolyn, in Pelham for more than 17 years. They are the parents of children who have been active in lacrosse, football, soccer, basketball and field hockey.

Dennis Roche, Vice President of the group, emphasized “we have studied and modeled the organization on other groups in the immediate region that have successfully raised needed funds to support sports and recreational activities for the youth of their communities”. Roche and his wife, Julie, have lived in Pelham for more than a decade and have four sons who are active in soccer, basketball and baseball.

Friends of Pelham Sports is raising money for large, capital-intensive projects intended to benefit a wide cross-section of Pelham residents. The group’s first goal is to fund the construction of the first turf field in the community, ideally at the Glover Field Complex.

According to Vinny Mazzaro, the group’s treasurer, “one of the first things you notice when you travel to recreational events in surrounding towns is that other local communities are providing their youth with superior recreation facilities, particularly for high school sports”. Mazzaro and his wife, Cathy, have lived in Pelham for sixteen years and have five children who have played baseball, lacrosse, hockey and soccer. He says “Glover is a wonderful facility that suffers tremendous use throughout much of the year. We hope the entire community of Pelham will embrace our efforts to make it even better so it will reflect the quality of our community and our dedication to our youth”.

While turfing Glover field is a high priority for the group, the organization’s goal is to be a long-term presence in the community and to fund important improvements for the foreseeable future. To that end, the group’s seven-member volunteer Board is forming an Advisory Committee that already has nearly three dozen members representing organizations and programs throughout Pelham. Following months of study, planning and preparation by the Board, the Advisory Committee held an organizational meeting on February 28 at Daronco Town House. It is widening its reach to all who are interested or want to help.

“Pelham is a wonderful community to live in; we think the opportunities for our children should reflect that,” said Kristin Barsanti, the Group’s Community Relations Director. Kristin and her husband, Peter, have three children who play soccer, football and baseball in Pelham.

The Board of Education oversees most of the athletic field space in Pelham. The community includes two villages that administer certain greenspace. Additionally, Town government administers recreation programs for the community.

Friends of Pelham Sports believes that its challenges go beyond raising money privately. “We already have assembled a large group, members of which have begun informal conversations with a variety of public officials to emphasize how important we consider this initiative to be,” said Blake Bell, the group’s Secretary. Blake and his wife, Janice Ingram, have lived in Pelham for more than a decade and have two children who play baseball, soccer, softball and lacrosse. “We need the help of many of our elected officials to make this happen for the benefit of the Town and its young people.”

Tom Walsh, another member of the Board, and his wife, Nancy, have lived in Pelham for nine years. They have 3 children who have played baseball, football, lacrosse, soccer and basketball. Likewise, board member Dwight Fairback and his wife, Kristen, moved to Pelham in 2008 and have a son who plays football, soccer, basketball, lacrosse and baseball.

Three years ago, Pelham voters defeated a bond referendum proposing that taxpayers fund a turf field initiative. The proposal was offered in connection with a much larger bond referendum on capital improvements to the District’s schools that passed. In the short time since that vote, there have been dozens of turf fields installed in surrounding communities and several major studies endorsing the safety of such fields. Indeed, with turf fields in Yonkers, New Rochelle, Bronxville, Eastchester, Harrison, Scarsdale, the Bronx and, soon to be unveiled, in Mount Vernon, Pelham now stands out -- for the wrong reasons.

Despite the Herculean efforts of many to maintain and repair the unavoidable damage suffered by Pelham playing fields subjected to inordinately-heavy use throughout the year, FPS believes that more can be done with the right initiatives and broad cooperation. Friends of Pelham Sports is working hard to help.

“We intend to raise this money privately,” said Tom Walsh. “This will be the first of many projects. We can fix baseball diamonds, tennis courts; create walking trails, and more. We can change our community for the better”.

# # #

If you would like more information about this topic, or would like to schedule an interview with Tim Cassidy, please call him at (914) 656-2147 or e-mail him at Cassidy.Tim@GMail.com.

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