Partnership pitch: Athletic groups to share Elm Park fields

Athletic groups to share Elm Park fields

RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent A Montoursville batter waits for the ball during a Saturday high school softball game against the Williamsport Cherry team at Elm Park.

It’s a new season of girls softball and baseball games at the athletic complex at Elm Park, and those who mow grass and maintain the facility have another year to do so.

The Williamsport Area Softball Boosters Association has renewed a one-year lease with the city at the city-owned facilities, according to Bill Wise, president of the softball association board.

Since 1945, members have overseen softball league play at the park, across West Fourth Street from Bowman Field.

“We are a small association,” Wise said. “We raise all of the money and built everything — at no cost to taxpayers.”

Maintenance has included grass mowing, watching concession stands and picking up trash, he said.

“Many of the association members played softball,” Wise said.

When the association heard rumors about expansion and modernization through the Lycoming County Visitors Bureau and possible soccer league play for collegiate teams on Pennsylvania College of Technology’s schedule, members wanted to hear the latest information, Wise said.

“We wanted to get some answers,” he said. “So we contacted Penn College and held a meeting.”

Wise said he thought the meeting went fine.

Pennsylvania College of Technology remains a strong partner with the association.

“Penn College athletics has partnered with both the city and the association since the beginning of our collegiate softball program,” said Elliott Strickland, college vice president for student affairs. “Elm Park has always been home to Wildcat softball, and our Division III coaches, athletes and administrators will continue to work collaboratively with the WASBA.”

Meanwhile, Jason Fink, executive director of the Lycoming County Visitors Bureau, said the athletic fields are viewed as a nice tourist attraction and hold potential for improvement.

Fink said he was aware the association had a 10-year lease and a one-year renewal option that it recently exercised.

Elm Park was one of the key sites the bureau looked at after learning that Donald Phillips, a longtime president of the association, announced he was stepping away from those responsibilities, Fink said.

“We looked at a project,” Fink said, adding the bureau will have until next year to see what might happen next.

Fink said he’s a fan of the park as a site for sports-tourism.

Fans who root these teams on from late March through the fall owe a debt of gratitude to the softball boosters association, he said.