‘Fields of Dreams’ Scores $2 Million In State Funding
By Space Coast Daily // June 8, 2014
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – A mission by community and business leaders to build a sports park that caters to the needs of children with disabilities has hit a home run, scoring more than $2 million in funds from the state.
The group led by Brevard County Commissioner Robin Fisher has lobbied for more than two years to fund a 5-acre “Field of Dreams” sporting complex at West Melbourne Community Park, which is located outside of Fisher’s Commission District 1 in North Brevard County.
State Reps. Tom Goodson and Steve Crisafulli and Sen. Andy Gardiner were instrumental in getting the funding approved through the governor’s office, Fisher said Thursday.
The project also received widespread support from West Melbourne Mayor Hal Rose and City Manager Scott Morgan, the Economic Development Commission of the Space Coast, and the 14-member Field of Dreams Board of Directors and made up of parents of children with disabilities, parks and recreation officials, special needs service advocates, a lawyer, an accountant and other community leaders.
“I believe we achieve our best when we work collaboratively for the good of our entire community,” Fisher said.
“I knew in these tough economic times the city and county were going to have a difficult time funding this project by themselves. It makes me extremely satisfied to know that this park is being made possible by public/private partnerships and will help fill a gap for this special population.”
Brevard County has 108 parks to serve 550,000 residents. There are more than 87,000 adults and children with disabilities.
“As a county we’ve done a great job creating a world class parks system and, while they are ADA compliant, there isn’t one park in our system that is equipped to specifically address the needs of persons with disabilities,” Fisher said.
“The need to have a park of this type was brought to the board’s attention by Jim Tapp, who had been working on the concept for several years.”
Field of Dreams will cost an estimated $4.2 million, but much of the money is either in hand through corporate contributions or committed through private donors.
The City of West Melbourne has a $50 per year 50-year lease on the property through the county, which also contributed funding for engineering survey work.
Field of Dreams is currently in the planning/permitting stages and, when built, will feature rubberized playing surfaces for baseball, soccer and basketball.
Fisher said he is appreciative of Commissioners Bolin Lewis, Nelson, and Anderson for supporting the sale of the park to the City of West Melbourne.
“Facilities will be designed to accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility equipment used by these courageous athletes, most of whom have never had the opportunity to participate in organized sports before, and never been on a field before that was designed for them,” Fisher said.
As part of his efforts to gain State funding support, Fisher said he highlighted the mission and the statewide economic impact this community park will have.
“Based on other models around the country we expect to become a welcoming destination for families throughout the state,” Fisher said.
“Field of Dreams is a natural complement to Promise in Brevard less than two miles down the road. Promise in Brevard is Betsy Farmer’s dream becoming a reality, an all-inclusive residential/vocational training community providing independent living and on-site vocational training and job opportunities for individuals with varying levels of ability.”
For more information on Field of Dreams, visit BrevardFieldofDreams.org