For many years, the land easterly of Morton Field was undeveloped primarily due to the proposed location of a highway linking the Maine Turnpike with Routes 201, 9, and 17. The Department of Conservation would not allow any CARA development in this area until the location of the proposed bridge and connecting roadway was finalized. In 1991, Maine DOT abandoned this concept for a third bridge and the land then became available for CARA to expand.
The demand for practice facilities and additional softball fields was very evident back then, so CARA embarked on a construction effort to provide two softball fields and a large area between the fields that could be utilized for such activities as rugby, lacrosse, or soccer.
Funding in the amount of $20,000.00 was available through the generosity of the Fuller Memorial Trust fund administered by Kennebec Savings Bank and a grant of $10,000 from the Maine Department of Motor Vehicles, which was part of the settlement for acquisition of land and structures leased to CARA and utilized by the State of Maine for the new Motor Vehicle building located on Hospital Street. In addition to the available cash, it was recognized that donations would be required to complete the project. Gary Burns was very instrumental in obtaining the services of his nephew, Bob Burns, a local contractor, and John Bridge, owner of Bridge Construction Company. In addition to the donations of heavy equipment, CARA agreed to pay for fuel and operators’ costs. CARA also provided lunch every workday to all workers and volunteers. Bob Burns of Chelsea, not related to Bob Burns the contractor, obtained the services of Cecil Magee and Paul Soucy, both local contractors. Much of the loam that was on site was sold to the City of Augusta, and CARA retained enough material to provide a cover of 4 inches when grading was completed. On site engineering was provided by Bob Burns and John Bridge. As the project progressed, Ralph Stiman donated his services as a loader operator, and several CARA personnel operated a large roller/compactor.
In addition to the field construction, a large parking lot was also included to provide needed parking for the new fields and also parking for Morton Field.
After final grading was completed, the area was hydro-seeded through a demonstration project courtesy of MDOT, and fencing was erected by CARA personnel. One dugout was built by Bill Dowling, Bud Folsom, and Joe Linscott, and the other dugout was constructed by the City of Augusta. The entire project was built for less than $33,000.00 and many kudos to Gary Burns for his effort in bringing this about.
CARA YOUTH MEMORIAL FIELDS
It was CARA’s intention to sub-lease the new complex to Augusta East Little League, but the league did not feel they could undertake this endeavor but still wished to play on the fields. With this in mind, CARA subleased the complex to the City of Augusta and reserved the right for Augusta East Little League to utilize the most northerly field until their season was concluded.
The fields were used initially but there were many complaints, particularly about the distance from the parking lot to the field. Eventually, usage decreased and was confined mostly to practices.
A lacrosse group led by Cam McKee expressed interest in using the complex for their program and there was some interest from St. Michael for a soccer program in the fall. CARA agreed to both requests, but weather problems began to render the area unplayable on many occasions both in the spring and again in the fall. Drainage was not an item that we could afford when the field was constructed and never was an issue until 2007 when the weather pattern changed, and the fields could not handle the increased rainfall. Added to the drainage problem was the reluctance of people using the facility to walk the distance from the parking area to the field.
Discussions were held with John Fallona, a long time CARA supporter and former resident of Augusta. John agreed to help us by providing the funding necessary to construct a parking area adjacent to the field and a drainage system that would allow the field to be used during the wet periods of spring and fall. Included in the available funding would be electrical service to the field, an improved one-way road system, two road connections to the Capitol Area Soccer fields, and some infrastructure improvements such as seating. The engineering and site evaluation work was donated by Steve Roberge, a CARA representative and registered professional civil engineer. Necessary fence relocation work was performed by CARA personnel. The project was begun late 2013 and will be completed in the spring of 2014. The drainage work was finished in July and worked very well after heavy rains. The parking lot and road construction was begun in November and will be completed early in 2014.
This field will be used for lacrosse in the spring and soccer in the fall with possible other uses such as other uses such as rugby. By connecting with the three soccer fields, considerable utility is gained, and the hosting of large events is increased considerably.