Dr. Phillips Little League announces plans to move south

Construction of new baseball fields and league facilities at Dr. Phillips Community Park, on land donated by Dr. Phillips Charities, is scheduled to begin in the coming weeks.

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  • | 10:14 p.m. October 5, 2016
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DR. PHILLIPS After two years of planning, officials for Dr. Phillips Little League, Orange County Parks and Recreation and Dr. Phillips Charities announced plans to relocate the league’s baseball fields to Dr. Phillips Community Park, where the league’s softball program already operates.

The announcement was made by the league’s board and Orange County Commissioner S. Scott Boyd at the league’s opening day for its fall season Sept. 24, where Boyd threw out the first pitch.

Ground is expected to break within the coming weeks and Dr. Phillips Little League President Todd Hockenberry said the new facility could be ready as early as the spring 2018 season.

The move to the community park at 8249 Buenavista Woods Blvd. will take the league roughly five miles south of its current location, adjacent to the Dr. Phillips YMCA at the intersection of Dr. Phillips Boulevard and Wallace Road. The site of the current league is owned by Dr. Phillips Charities and is leased to the league in an arrangement dating back to 1995.

From all three perspectives — the league’s, Dr. Phillips Charities’ and the county’s — this seemed to be the right choice. Having a facility at a county park is the more standard practice of leagues around the Orange County, including Windermere Little League at Bailey Park.

To make that happen, Dr. Phillips Charities helped out once again.

“To make sure there was enough property for it, we (Dr. Phillips Charities) had some adjoining land to the park, and it was two-and-a-half acres, and we have donated that to Orange County for use of the little league fields,” said Ken Robinson, CEO of Dr. Phillips Charities.

Hockenberry calls the new arrangement a “win-win,” noting the league will have receive brand-new facilities with the same number of fields (four) plus room for expansion.

“This is a positive thing,” Hockenberry said. “Between DP Charities donating land and the county donating funds …  using that land for the fields definitely gives us a better facility and more things around the facility for the families to do when they come to the games.”

Before and after games, families will be able to enjoy the park itself, which includes a splash pad, playground and picnic areas, among other facilities.

Although the relocation will move the league from what is unofficially the center of the Dr. Phillips community, having the ball fields at the park actually will place the league in a more central part of its large registration zone. That zone, as revised in 2014, runs from as far north as Old Winter Garden Road to as far south as U.S. 192 and includes neighborhoods along the southernmost stretch of Winter Garden-Vineland Road near Disney. 

Additionally, surrounding areas near Dr. Phillips Community Park are primed for growth — so much so that a relief high school nearby is in the works.

“That makes it closer to where our new families are coming from,” Hockenberry said.

Once completed, the new site will will be maintained by Orange County Parks and Recreation, as is common for other leagues in the county. Currently, the league is responsible for maintenance of the fields, which constitutes an added expense that will be alleviated with the move.

Concerning the current location of the league, which will continue to be used until the completion of the new facility, Robinson said Dr. Phillips Charities has not decided what to do with the land, and there are no preliminary plans.

As for the league, locating to a county park will mean no more leases and an arrangement that is sustainable for the long haul.

“It secures our future forever — we’re using county fields like all the other little leagues,” Hockenberry said.


Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].


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