GPWSLL working to raise funds for park updates

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 26, 2017

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GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Since 1954, young ballplayers of the Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores Little League have played on the diamonds and fields of Ghesquire Park.

Love for the game has continued for the past several decades, and parents, volunteers and team members of the current league are on a quest to improve and update certain areas of the park. The all-volunteer GPWSLL currently uses four of five diamonds for baseball and softball at the park. Ghesquire Park is located behind City Hall at 20025 Mack Ave.

They are working to let the public know about the league’s “Play Today Play Tomorrow” campaign to raise money to make various updates at the park. Organizers have been meeting with city officials to let them know what the league wants to do, which includes improving the batting cages, the four fields the league uses and the concession stand.

The project has not yet been confirmed, because it needs to get approval from city officials.

“We have a process to go through,” Little League Board of Directors member Kurt Barr said. “Nothing is definite.”

Organizers at this stage just want to get the word out to the public and are working to set up times to further discuss the project with city officials. On April 11, a group of volunteers presented their plan at to the Citizens’ Recreation Commission, but more discussions with city officials need to occur at this stage of the game.

“I feel the improvements show potential but they have to still be reviewed by the city council and administration for final approval,” said City Councilman Richard Shetler Jr., who is the council representative for the Citizens’ Recreation Commission. “It must get city approval.”

Since 2001, the league has averaged about 500 players per season, with about 400 boys who play baseball ages 5-16, and 100 girls who primarily play softball ages 6-16. The athletes, who must attend school in any of the Grosse Pointes, primarily reside in Grosse Pointe Woods and Grosse Pointe Shores with a few players from Harper Woods and Detroit. The little league has multiple divisions, and there are 40 teams each year.

Not only are “Play Today Play Tomorrow” organizers making plans to raise money to fund their project, they also are looking for people to help with the labor end of the project, including plumbing, framing, electrical, painting and more. But in order to make any changes, city officials must approve the project.

GPWSLL Board Member Annemarie Harris has two sons, age 9 and 12, who have played in the league several years.

“They love it,” she said. “They play with kids they are friends with, and they’re making new friends. They really like the interaction with the different coaches.”

This year, Harris is manager of her 9-year-old son’s team.

“It’s a lot of work, but they’re so cute, and they’re so eager,” Harris said. “It’s a fun role to be in.”

Harris also is “hopeful” the fundraising will go well for the league.

“There are a number of us that grew up and played at Ghesquire Park. It’s a great, dynamic hub of activity,” Harris said. “There’s a strong sense of community.”

The Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores Little League will hold its official opening day kickoff event with a parade at noon May 7 on Mack Avenue. The group will meet at Comerica Bank at 20200 Mack Ave., in Grosse Pointe Woods, and walk to Ghesquire Park.

To make a donation to “Play Today Play Tomorrow,” contact Kurt Barr via email at kurtjbarr@gmail.com. The group’s website is playtodayplaytomorrow.org, although at press time, the site was undergoing maintenance.

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