LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The unveiling this week of a planned softball complex in Lafayette is the most recent in a long history of public-private partnerships that turned extraordinary ideas into reality.
The Crosser Sports Complex, named in memory of the late Richard. H. Crosser, will add four high school regulation softball fields to a 15-acre site near Elston Road and Powder House Lane on Lafayette’s southwest side.
The land for the complex was donated by John and June Scheumann, while Westport Homes Inc. and the Crosser Family Foundation contributed a combined $650,000 toward the project.
With a donated press box, concession stand and other equipment from Tempest Homes LLC and River City Church, roughly $1.5 million of the $1.9 million project has already been raised, Mayor Tony Roswarski said Friday.
“We didn’t have near enough locations for people to practice and to play games,” Roswarski said of the Lafayette Girls Softball League, in addition to Jefferson and Tecumseh Jr. high schools’ softball programs. “We couldn’t really host any tournaments for the girls because we just didn’t have a facility.”
Scheumann and Crosser worked together in Lafayette as early as 1972 and ultimately started their own business, Crossman Communities, until it was acquired by Beazer Homes in 2002, according to a news release from Lafayette Parks Department.
Crosser “would have been very pleased to have a park named after him where families will have fun together and create lasting memories,” Scheumann said in the news release. “I also think, as a Broncho, that Dick would have been happy to know that the Jefferson High School softball program will also be using the facility.”
The complex is the most recent example of community members stepping up to the plate to bring a needed asset to the area.
For example, Subaru of Indiana Automotive and the McAllister Foundation, in addition to many other organizations, have both played key roles in bringing new parks and new park equipment to Lafayette over the past several years, Roswarski said.
“I don’t even know where to stop,” he said as he listed off Lafayette’s community partners. “Almost every thing in our parks are public-private partnerships that help make those projects a reality.”
Thanks to those donations, the city can focus on building other amenities, such as hiking and biking trails, to accentuate its park facilities. Long-term plans for the Crosser complex, for example, include a walking track and playground, Roswarski said.
“That gives us the ability to do some of those other things if we don’t have to put in all of our resources,” he said.
A similar history of community partnerships can be seen in West Lafayette.
Lynn Cason, for example, donated 13.6 acres for a new park near U.S. 231 centered around the history of Morris Schoolhouse, which was relocated and will be preserved as a museum on the land.
At least $50,000 toward the planned park already has been raised from the Community Foundation of Greater Lafayette, the West Lafayette Parks and Recreation Foundation and private donors, said Janet Fawley, West Lafayette parks superintendent.
“We constantly are requesting people to help us out,” Fawley said. “To do extraordinary things, it takes extraordinary help from the community.”
But plans for Greater Lafayette’s parks don’t stop there.
Tons of dirt excavated as part of Lafayette’s massive storm sewer project could be used to create a dirt BMX bike track. And Roswarski said plans several years ago to build a public skate park haven’t left the back of his mind.
With enough support from the community, the opportunities are endless. So who’s next?
“People like the parks, they like recreation, and a lot of people have fond memories … of going to different things at different parks, and people are willing to help out,” Roswarski said. “We’ve been very lucky to have very generous people.”
Reach Journal & Courier reporter Joseph Paul at 765-420-5339.