MIDDLETOWN - City officials are aiming to break ground in the spring on a new multipurpose athletic field that will be added to Fancher-Davidge Park.

Middletown's Recreation Department superintendent, Christine Brinckerhoff, said Wednesday that the city hopes to finish the $650,000 project by July 2019.

The new field is part of a larger expansion project that has nearly doubled the size of Middletown's largest park. Land acquisitions around  Davidge over the past year have added 80 acres to the formerly 112-acre park.

The expansion incorporates 54 acres of private, vacant land bought from C. Anderson Inc., for $210,000 in 2017. Forty acres of the property are contiguous to the current park and reach up to Ingrassia Road. The additional 14 acres are on the other side of Ingrassia Road.

The new athletic field, at 252-292 Route 211 West, will be built on 11 acres, Brinckerhoff said.

Some of the land now incorporated into the park had been leased to Competitive Power Ventures for staging during construction of its natural gas power plant in the Town of Wawayanda. Mayor Joe DeStefano said the land used to be 8 to 10 feet below the road. Part of the agreement to allow CPV to use the property was that the company would fill it in before handing it back over.

CPV also added about $1,000 of fencing around the 11-acre lot, Brinckerhoff said. The adjacent 15 acres cannot be developed because of woods and wetlands.

Brinckerhoff said the athletic field is much-needed since youth football teams are currently sharing Little League fields at Watts Park. 

The new field will be equipped with a large scoreboard, bathrooms, bleachers, a five-lane walking track, a concession stand and enough parking for about 100 cars, Brinckerhoff said.

Council President Miguel Rodrigues, who coaches a local youth football team and pushed for the new athletic field, said the city is looking for corporate sponsors to help pay for the project.

DeStefano said Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, D-C-Forestburgh, secured a $250,000 grant and state Sen. John Bonacic, R-C-Mount Hope, secured a $100,000 grant for the project. He said the city will pay the balance.

"Our families are growing, the community is growing. We need to preserve as much open space as possible for quality of life," DeStefano said in an interview at his office Wednesday. "It's good economics, and good economic development. It all makes sense."

lbellamy@th-record.com