PAL upgrades field with help from the community

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Robert Elkins, front, at a ribbon cutting for PAL's newly-upgraded Dejana Field. He is joined by from right, state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck), North Hempstead Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio and Manorhaven Mayor Jim Avena, who also serves as grant writer for the Peter and Jeri Dejana Family Foundation. Other community leaders join the officials. (Photo courtesy of Debbie Greco)

The PAL Sports Stadium at Sunset Park in Port Washington received a facelift and celebrated with a name change to Dejana Field on Sunday.

Upgrades include new sod for the stadium’s outfield, new LED lights surrounding the ball field, a regraded infield, a newly surfaced court which allows the basketball court to serve as a multi-sport arena, other structural improvements and refurbished bleachers. 

The renovations would not have been possible without the help of the community, said Robert Elkins, executive director of Port Washington’s Police Activities League. He said the Peter and Jeri Dejana Family Foundation has made significant donations to the organization, as well as Community Chest of Port Washington.  

PAL has been in Port Washington since 1948, Elkins said, and for a long time, it was the premier sports league in the area. However, when he first got involved 10 years ago, that was not the case: there were only about 20 children enrolled in programs and the organization was not keeping up with its competitor Port Washington Youth Activities, or PYA. 

He initially got involved because his daughter wanted to play competitive softball, a program that PYA did not offer at the time, he said.

After coaching, he was asked to serve as the director of programs and three years ago, Elkins was named the executive director of the organization. 

Since, he has been working to rebuild PAL’s program offerings and the organization and upgrading the field that was “getting more and more rundown” due to lack of use, funding and management. 

He said he and the board of directors began working hard to raise money and reaching out to Port Washington’s many community organizations. 

And their calls were met with an outpouring of support from the community with almost $150,000 in work completely funded by donations. 

DeLalio Sod Farms LLC in Dix Hills provided PAL with 56,000 square feet of sod for free, which would have been a $30,000 purchase, Elkins said. 

Precision Work Inc., a Port Washington-based equipment supplier, donated a $25,000 tractor so that PAL could maintain the upgraded field, while Clearview Roofing and Construction Inc., also in Port Washington, refurbished the roofs of the dugout at no cost and provided a discount for the clubhouse roof. 

All American Painting, a Port Washington painting service, gave the outside of the PAL clubhouse a new coat of paint and added the PAL logo, the dugouts and bleachers and Elkins said they aren’t done yet. The paint was donated by Alper’s Hardware on Port Washington’s Main Street. 

The replacement of the clubhouse doors and frames was completed courtesy of The Drillologist, and Just Landscape Lighting completed the preliminary lighting around the stadium.

Another major contributor to PAL has been the Levy family, Elkins said, which he described as a continuous, selfless supporter of the organization. 

North Hempstead Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio has consistently reminded the Town Board of the importance of PAL during discussion of the town’s acquisition of Sunset Park, where the field is situated, Elkins said.

“Without her continuing support, all of the other donations wouldn’t have been possible,” Elkins said.

PAL did not hold programming in the spring to allow for the renovations, but fall programs are underway, Elkins said. Most of the programs, except softball, will not begin until this  weekend. 

He said PAL mostly operates with a rolling registration for its instructional courses for younger children.  

The organization introduced a lacrosse program and a special education program last year. For pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students, there is a kickball program. 

“PAL is working hard to provide an atmosphere where kids want to play,” Elkins said. 

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