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Newark National Little League says farewell to Clark Field, its home since 1965

Since it opened in 1965, George Clark Field has been the spring and summer home of thousands of kids who came up through Newark National Little League.

It’s where they practiced under the hot sun and played games under the lights on summer nights. It’s where all-star teams dreamed of making it to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. – and actually did in 2013. It’s where kids learned the game of baseball, and mentors imparted life lessons that went far beyond sports.

“I’m not sure that I’ve ever been alive and known Newark without this place to come and get some greasy French fries, hear that tink and see one fly over and see one disappear in the right field trees,” said Paul Oakes, who set the home run record playing there from 1990 to 1992. “I don’t know what it feels like, and I’m 42, to not have Clark Field.”

However, that’s the new reality that Oakes and the rest of the Newark National community will have to adjust to.

Holy Angels Catholic Church, which owns the Possum Park Road property where the field is located, is selling the land to pay off debt.

This was Newark National’s last season at Clark Field, and the league sent the field out in style, hosting both the district championship and the state tournament.

The final official game was Saturday, when Naamans Little League defeated Milton to win the state championship and earn a trip to regionals in Bristol, Conn. After the game, a group of Newark National players and coaches played a pickup game to ensure that Newark National kids would be the last ones to round the bases at the storied field.

Prior to the championship game, more than 50 alumni and current players took part in a farewell ceremony commemorating the Clark Field.

“When you’re down in the minors, this is the goal. The goal is to get to Clark,” said Joe Poppiti, sponsorship director for Newark National. “Clark just holds a special place in the community. So many people have come through here.”

Oakes, who went on to play at Christiana High and McDaniel College and now coaches at Dickinson High, said the impact of Clark Field went far beyond balls and strikes.

“It wasn’t the statistics and it wasn’t the wins and the losses that defined Clark Field to me,” Oakes said. “It was the community. It was the blue collar people that lived in the neighborhoods that are around us right now.”

He recalled George Clark – the late coach and Little League administrator for whom the field is named – coming up in his wheelchair to give the kids pointers even after retiring. Clark and other coaches and mentors instilled in the players important values.

“I remember getting a little older, in the seniors and then in high school, and being like, ‘Yo, I’m proud I’m from National,’” Oakes said. “I’m proud that I played at a place that represents what this league represents, what this field represents – longevity, loyalty, hard work.”

Next year, the majors division – which is the most prominent Little League division and is comprised of kids ages 10-12 – will move to Newark National’s Gallaher Complex. The complex, located on county-owned land adjacent to Gallaher Elementary School off Harmony Road – is already home to the t-ball, minors, juniors and seniors divisions.

In the off-season, Newark National will make upgrades at Gallaher, including a new shed, clubhouse concession stand and batting cages.

Poppiti said the league found out early this year that Clark Field was being sold and has had time to prepare for the move.

“Our motto at our league is ‘the tradition continues.’ Our tradition will continue over there at Gallaher,” he said. “We’ll continue to make memories for kids, we’ll continue to give good experiences to kids, we’ll continue to teach them baseball, we’ll continue to teach them life lessons they can take with them.”

During Saturday’s ceremony, Poppiti paid tribute to all the coaches, parents and volunteers who built and maintained Clark Field over the last 57 years.

“It’s not about the wins or losses, because we’ve all had memorable ones of those. It’s not about the home runs or the strikeouts. It’s not about the errors or the great plays,” he told the alumni gathered on the field. “It’s about the memories. It’s about the experiences and the friendships that we made – that little piece of Clark Field that we carry with us all the time. Always carry that with you and pass it on to the next generation and the generation after that.”

Five new development projects proposed in Newark

Developers have submitted five new development proposals to the City of Newark in the last two months.

One project calls for a seven-story apartment complex on South Main Street, another involves building a six-story apartment building across from Newark Shopping Center and another is to replace the former Friendly’s Restaurant on South College Avenue with a convenience store and gas station.

The projects come as developers have just a few months to submit plans for large buildings before city council is expected to pass a new law that would cap downtown buildings at five stories. The vote is planned for November, and any projects submitted prior to that would not be affected.

Prior to 2019, the only downtown buildings exceeding five stories were the Washington House Condominiums, the One Easton apartments at Newark Shopping Center and the Main Towers senior apartments.

Since then, city council has approved a seven-story hotel for Main Street and a six-story mixed-use complex at the corner of Main Street and Haines Street. Including the most recently submitted plans, five more six or seven-story projects are under consideration in or near downtown Newark.

Here’s a look at the newest development proposals:

186 S. Main St.

Developer Hal Prettyman is proposing to build a seven-story apartment building as well as townhouses on a 1.5-acre property made up of four existing parcels on South Main Street and Old Barksdale Road.

The apartment building would contain 54 two-bedroom apartments and front on South Main Street. Behind it, Prettyman would build seven three-story townhouses. The project would include 104 parking spaces but also requires a 25-space parking waiver.

If approved, the project would be located between the 7-Eleven and the existing Madeline Crossing apartments.

In order to build the project, Prettyman is proposing to combine 178, 182 and 186 S. Main St. and 528 Old Barksdale Road and demolish the existing buildings. The South Main Street parcels contain two houses as well as a few small outbuildings and are being used to store old cars, construction equipment and other junk. The Old Barksdale Road parcel contains a one-story retail building that is home to the Ace of Fades Barbershop and Zo’s Auto Detailing.

Prettyman’s project is adjacent to a separate redevelopment project that was submitted earlier this year by Lang Development Group.

Lang is proposing a five-story building containing 54 two-bedroom units and parking on the ground floor at 532 Old Barksdale Road, a 1.3-acre site that sits behind the Prettyman property.

The site was formerly home to Boulden Brothers, which moved to Sandy Brae Industrial Park. A music studio is currently using part of the Boulden property.

249 E Main St.

A six-story mixed-use complex is proposed for 249 E. Main St., which is across from Newark Shopping Center and next to Bing’s Bakery.

The site currently includes a large white house – which contains medical offices, three apartments and the former Beans Coffee House – as well as a seven-unit apartment building in the back.

In their place, Hal Prettyman is proposing to build 4,600 square feet of retail space, 38 two-bedroom apartments and a three-story parking garage.

The project includes 90 parking spaces but needs a 19-space parking waiver.

1115 S. College Ave.

A convenience store and gas pumps are being proposed for 1115 S. College Avenue, near the Interstate 95 interchange.

If approved, the business would replace the Friendly’s Restaurant, which closed earlier this year.

The property is owned by Townsend-based RRC Restaurants Inc.

A separate project, also working its way through the city’s development process, calls for tearing down the adjacent Red Roof Inn and replacing it with a six-story Home2 Suites by Hilton and a commercial pad site for a yet-to-be-announced tenant.

55 Benny St.

A small, three-unit apartment complex is proposed for 55 Benny St.

The proposal calls for tearing down the existing rental house and constructing a three-story garden apartment complex. Each of the three units would have five bedrooms.

The property is owned by an LLC in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The planned development is in an area that is dominated by single-family homes that gradually became student rental houses. In recent years, there have been at least four approved projects in which developers demolished many of the houses and replaced them with apartments.

515 Capitol Trail

Four office buildings are planned for a property at 515 Capitol Trail.

The 1.34-acre site is located just west of Windy Hills Professional Building and across the street from Anna Way, which is the entrance to the Windy Hills neighborhood.

The proposal calls for tearing down a house and replacing it with four office and accessory-use buildings, two of which will be 1,800 square feet and two of which will be 4,800 square feet.

The plans do not indicate what the office buildings will be used for. The property is owned by All Purpose LLC Capitol Trail Series. The owner had previously proposed building 10 townhouses there, but that project was withdrawn.

Other projects

A number of previously announced projects are either approved or awaiting consideration by city council. Here’s a look at some of the notable projects.

65 South Chapel St.: The plan calls for replacing the University Commons townhouses and the Continental Court apartments with a six-story building containing 189 apartments and a 511-space parking garage. Still in the early stages.

339 E. Main St.: The plan calls for demolishing three old houses and building a six-story building containing apartments and office space. Still in the early stages.

1105 Elkton Road: The plan calls for building a Wawa convenience store and gas station at the site of Leon’s Garden World. Still in the early stages.

30 S. Chapel St.: Lang Development Group demolished the former Burger King building and is planning to build a seven-story apartment building with 65 two-bedroom units and a small retail space. City council will vote on the project Aug. 22.

25 North Chapel St.: The plan calls for replacing the old Chapel Street Players theater with a four-story building consisting of parking on the first floor and 21 two-bedroom apartments on the floors above. Awaiting city council consideration.

College Square (now called The Grove at Newark): The plan calls for renovating the shopping center, building 306 apartments in the southeast quadrant of the site, extending Delaware Avenue through the shopping center and building new retail space surrounding the road extension. Construction is underway, and the apartments are expected to open this fall.

141 E. Main St.: The plan calls for a six-story building with 80 apartments, retail space and a public parking garage at the site of Starbucks and the former Duck Donuts. Approved, but construction has been delayed until at least the end of the year.

94 E. Main St.: Lang Development is building a seven-story hotel that incorporates the Green Mansion façade, as well as a seven-story apartment building behind it. Underground parking will run under the entire property, and cars will enter and exit the parking garage from Main Street. Construction is underway.

268 E. Main St.: The plan calls for replacing the Super 8 motel with a five-story building containing a first-floor restaurant and 56 apartments. Approved, but construction has yet to begin.

500-700 Creek View Road: The plan calls for building a new restaurant, office building and theater for Chapel Street Players behind Timothy’s Restaurant as well as converting existing office building into 111 apartments. Recently approved.

132 E. Main St.: The plan calls for demolishing the existing building – which houses Tasty Wok, Playa Bowls and the former Margherita’s Pizza – and building a five-story building containing retail space and 31 apartments. Recently approved.

1501 Casho Mill Road: The plan calls for demolishing the existing office building and constructing a three-story building containing 48 apartments and new office space. Approved, but construction has yet to begin.

62 N. Chapel St.: The plan calls for demolishing an office building and building 18 apartments. Despite being approved in March 2019, the project has yet to begin.

318 S. College Ave.: Lang will restore part of the former Press of Kells building while demolishing the rear portion and building a two-story medical building. Approved, but construction has yet to begin.

1 N. Twin Lakes Blvd.: The plan calls for building 24 townhouse-style apartments at a site previously approved for 12 units. Approved, but construction has yet to begin.

A rendering shows the planned Home2 Suites by Hilton extended-stay hotel on South College Avenue.

Cpl. Peter Barnes, of the Newark Police Department, demonstrates fingerprinting equipment at National Night Out.