FARMINGTON — Selectmen on Tuesday night, April 9, approved using $10,000 from the Judith Bjorn donation to convert Philbrick Park in Farmington Falls to a multi-use Little League and softball field.

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

“Last year I was approached by a group of people from town, the softball community,” Matthew Foster, director of Parks/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 University of Maine at Farmington, Mt. Blue High School and the middle school are heavily used, those teams have priority.

“The equality issue was brought up, us having just municipally owned baseball fields that we care and maintain, provide for the public,” he noted. “We don’t really provide any softball opportunities.

“I felt they had a good point, there was a reason to do it.”


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

“I was really expecting to get some pushback from the baseball community because it might take a little bit of time and space away from them,” he noted. “But they were extremely supportive.

Foster expected those who have sons playing baseball have daughters who play softball, knew the struggles. The field will be multi-use, available for baseball, he stated.

“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 multi-use at the same time would be easy, Foster stated. The project would provide something to people in the community they lack and address the Cal Ripken rule change, he noted.

“It will be like a three-use field,” Foster said. “Softball requires a total dirt infield, no grass. That was the one thing I thought would be a concern but apparently most Little League teams out of state play on all dirt infields, almost everybody has got a multi-use field.”


Rob Dippner, coach of the Mt. Blue baseball team is from out of state, advocated for that, Foster stated. If local teams go out of state to play at some point, having that type of field to practice on would help, he noted.

The project had wide support, the Recreation Committee voted in favor of it, Foster said.

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

“I think it’s a great idea,” Selectman Dennis O’Neil said. “There is a need out there, it needs to be addressed. This seems like a reasonable amount to address that issue. I am all in favor of it.”

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

Foster said there is a plan with Hippach Field being changed this spring for the 50/70 rule. Philbrick will be done this fall as Sports Fields from Monmouth, pretty much the only company locally that does the work is booked until late summer, he stated. Because of the estimated project costs other estimates will be gotten, he noted.


Selectman Joshua Bell told of speaking with a mom 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 great, 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,” O’Neil said.

Bell requested a letter of appreciation be sent.

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