Park alliance looking to name new courts for town athletes

By Karen Rase - [email protected]

XENIA — Members of the newly formed Lexington Park Initiative (LPI) met Monday to discuss upcoming basketball court upgrades and the naming of two courts honoring home-town athletes Ben Waterman and Ted Day, which the LPI wants to have emblazoned on the basketball courts’ floor.

Mitchell Waterman, son of Ben Waterman, discussed how Lexington Park “was the place to hang out” years ago and how many standout athletes — like his father — practiced at the park and held tournaments there in the 60s and 70s.

“That park was the hub of the east-end community, it had everything. We want to revitalize the park and bring it back to its former glory,” said Waterman, a retired coach who’s family has a long history of family gatherings at the park.

James Day, who’s uncle Ted Day was another Xenia East High School standout, is dedicated to bringing the park back to life, including Lexington Park Initiative founding members Curtis Symonds, Tip Ingles, and Clayton Brady.

“Our life revolved around the park and all the activities there,” Day said. “We were a tight community and our family did a lot of volunteer work and played a lot of basketball at the park.”

Ryan Baker, Xenia community development coordinator, is compiling a list of cost estimates to repair/rehab/purchase equipment for the park. The list will be presented to Xenia City Council at its April 14 meeting. If it is advanced to a second reading, council could vote on funding the park upgrades.

”We don’t have the final numbers yet,” said Councilman Will Urschel. “We’re looking at two regulation high school courts (using rubber instead of asphalt) and we’re supposed to get a significant donation from a sports facility manufacturer. Cost estimates for fencing, court maintenance/upgrades, bleachers, partial repaving of the parking lot, and lighting will be included in the cost estimates. Some community organizations will be donating resources to rehab the existing restroom.”

The city would be paying for this with either existing park funds or a one-time American Rescue Plan Funds allotment. The result of a Lowe’s Community Grant fund request — which was reported on previously —won’t be known until July.

“An important part of the park rehabilitation is bringing force the history of young men and women whose lives were impacted by playing sports at the park,” Urschel said. “Because of this the Lexington Park Initiative community group will be embossing the names of two individuals in the court. We want to honor the history of people whose lives were impacted by playing sports at Lexington Park.”

Urschel said the goal is to have the initial park upgrade ready for a June celebration and to start sport skill camps daily at the park in June.

”We want to get the kids back out playing sports and be mentored by good people,” Urschel said. “We also want to educate youth about the history of the park and inspire them to know that they can achieve great things as well.”

By Karen Rase

[email protected]

Reach Karen Rase at 937-502-4534.

Reach Karen Rase at 937-502-4534.