Plans for ballfields and a dog park in Derby are one step closer to reality after the Derby Community Foundation announced a large donation of land for the project this past week.
Vicki Decarsky donated 63 acres of farmland on Rock Road near the south edge of Derby’s city limits. The new project will be named Decarsky Park, in honor of Vicki and her late husband Tomp.
“Our mission is to inspire vision and generosity,” said Theresa Hearn, executive director of the Derby Community Foundation. “This is a circumstance where vision and generosity come together in a beautiful way to create something wonderful for Derby.”
The park will include ample parking, concession and restroom facilities, walking path, shade trees and a dog park. It will also have a separate entrance and exit off of Rock Road, with a traffic signal. The ballfields will be the main attraction at the site, but plans for a small fenced area for off-leash dogs have also been included.
“We didn’t go into this with the idea of having a dog park,” said Kathy Sexton, Derby city manager. “When we heard Tomp loved dogs and coached baseball, we thought it would be a great combination.”
Detailed design work is planned for 2016 with construction following in 2017. The city will continue to farm the undeveloped land until construction begins.
Construction at Decarsky Park will be funded by the one-half percent sales tax increase passed in October 2013. The city will be responsible for the cost of title insurance, survey work and platting associated with accepting the donated land.
A survey was completed to divide the 78 acres of undeveloped land, which was annexed by the city in 1997, into two parcels. The city will use 63 acres of the land, while Vicki Decarsky will retain 15 acres.
Having a large ball field complex, like the one envisioned at Decarsky Park, could attract large softball tournaments. The Derby Recreation Commission oversees several softball tournaments annually. Officials from the United States Specialty Sports Association told the DRC they would like Derby to host bigger fast-pitch softball tournaments in the future, but the city would need more ballfields to accommodate more teams.
The (DRC) helps us a lot with the ones that we have, but this is big,” Sexton said. “This has an operational impact. All of that has to be figured out.”
Securing land for the ballfields on the south side of Derby was instrumental, Sexton said.
“You don’t want them up north by the new middle school because they don’t see what Derby has to offer,” Sexton said. “Being on the south end of town, most people will drive all the way through town, whether that be K-15 or Rock Road. They will see all the shopping and eating options.”
The new park is not the only contribution the Decarskys have made to the community. Their foundation has worked with the Derby Community Foundation in the past to develop the largest annual college scholarship exclusively for Derby High School students.
“I’m a strong supporter and believer of the Derby Community Foundation and what they do,” Vicki Decarsky said. “It’s been fun, and it will continue to be.”