FARMINGTON — Selectmen on Tuesday approved using $10,000 from the Judith Bjorn donation to convert Philbrick Park in Farmington Falls to a multiuse Little League and softball field.

In November 2021, selectmen approved Bjorn’s $100,000 gift to the Parks and Recreation Department.

“Last year, I was approached by a group of people from town, the softball community,” Matthew Foster, director of Parks and Recreation, said Tuesday. “We had a discussion about the need for a municipally-owned softball field for the groups in the area.”

Foster said the three available fields at the University of Maine at Farmington and Mt. Blue high and middle schools are heavily used, and those teams have priority.

“The equality issue was brought up, us having just municipally-owned baseball fields,” he said. “We don’t really provide any softball opportunities. I felt they had a good point.”

Foster talked with the Recreation Committee and several people from the baseball community about possible options on how to make it happen.


“I was really expecting to get some pushback from the baseball community … but they were extremely supportive,” he noted.

Foster expected those who have sons playing baseball have daughters who play softball knew the struggles.

“It is a good opportunity for us because the Cal Ripken league is changing the rules,” he said. “Right now, the Little League field is one dimension, (the league) is looking at making it a minor/major field with different pitching distances and base paths. We are looking at getting rid of the mound, having a portable mound to put it at two different locations and then the bases would have two sets of plugs for the older kids and the younger kids.”

Changing Philbrick Park to multiuse at the same time would be easy, Foster said. The project would provide something to people in the community they lack and address the Cal Ripken rule change, he said.

The estimate for converting Philbrick into a multiuse field is about $9,500, according to information Foster provided.

“Softball requires a total dirt infield, no grass,” he said. “Most Little League teams out of state play on all dirt infields, almost everybody has got a multiuse field.” If local teams go out of state to play at some point, having that type of field to practice on would help, he said.


The project had wide support, Foster said.

“I think it is in line with what Judith Bjorn really wanted for our community when she gave this donation,” he said.

“I coached in this town for 18 years,” Selectman Matthew Smith said. “Baseball is huge. We pull a lot of teams in here, which is really good for this community. I would like to see more (town) fields promoted. If this works, use this field as a prototype to go around to our other fields and fix them.”

Foster said Hippach Field will be changed this spring for the 50/70 rule, a 50-foot pitching distance and 70-foot base paths. Philbrick will be done this fall because Sports Fields Inc. from Monmouth is booked until late summer, he said. Other estimates will be received, he added.

Selectman Joshua Bell told of speaking with a mother about softball being played in Jay and Wilton, having and then not having a local team.

“That was the discussion last year,” Foster said. “It is difficult to even field a team if you don’t have a field to play on. Our teams were going out of town to borrow other fields and the fields were not maintained well. I think it is kind of an important thing for us to do for our community.”

Selectmen also accepted a $40 donation from Karyl and Roger Condit for the Parks and Recreation Department to replenish art supplies.

“Karyl comes to our art class, she really enjoys it,” Foster said. “She just wanted to give back to the program a little bit, help purchase more materials.”

“I love the public spirit,” Selectman Dennis O’Neil said.

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