Reid McDonald, left, and Rotary member Brian Thomasson go over proposed plans to improve and enhance Aldergrove Athletic Park with an artificial turf field.

Reid McDonald, left, and Rotary member Brian Thomasson go over proposed plans to improve and enhance Aldergrove Athletic Park with an artificial turf field.

Artificial is a good thing at Aldergrove Park

Things are shaping up nicely at Aldergrove Athletic Park

Things are shaping up nicely at Aldergrove Athletic Park.

Over the years, thanks to the involvement of park user groups, the Township of Langley, the Aldergrove Rotary Club, local businesses and other organizations and levels of government, the park now boasts several natural turf fields, four baseball diamonds, tennis courts, a mountain bike park, a covered picnic area, a playground, a skateboard park, basketball courts and recently opened community gardens, among other attractions.

Brian Thomasson, who founded the Aldergrove Rotary Club in 1990 and was the first president, is working with Reid McDonald on a grant application for $100,000 on behalf of Aldergrove Youth Soccer, where he coached for 13 years, on the next phase of the park: an artificial turf playing field.

The Township has backed the project, and last week approved conversion of the practice area to turf as well.

“There’s definitely a need,” said McDonald.

“This is just starting to be a nice park. Soon, our kids won’t have to travel to the events centre in Langley for everything, with all the late hours that entails.”

Thomasson and McDonald have been involved in the park’s enhancements for years, including the Rotary Fieldhouse and the picnic shelter, due to their respective involvement in Rotary and in Aldergrove Youth Soccer.

Both men noted that each enhancement to the park means plenty of involvement on the part of the township, the provincial government, the community and those who donate time, materials and labour.

The Rotary club announced that $41,000 — what was left over from the community’s sale of Patricia Hall — would go toward the Aldergrove Athletic Park improvements.

But unforeseen costs can always arise, and the grant is not a given each year, so Thomasson and McDonald work to raise awareness and funds where they can.

Adjacent to a high school with a running track and natural turf field, Aldergrove Athletic Park is home to several sports teams and groups, including local secondary schools’ sports teams, the Aldergrove Minor Baseball Association and Aldergrove Youth Soccer.

Seniors use the trails and running track to walk, children scamper around the playground and other walk their dogs even on wet, chilly days when the playing fields aren’t in use.

“It’s nice to see it coming together,” McDonald said.

Thomasson agreed, and noted that, when all the enhancements are complete, it will be a park that Aldergrove residents will be proud to call their own.

Where have all the old halls gone?

The last of the funds from the sale of Patricia Hall are going toward Aldergrove Athletic Park and the old hall, closed for years, is up for sale again.

Formerly owned and operated by a community group whose sole wish was that funds from the sale be used to benefit the community, Patricia Hall was once part of a neighbourhood south of Aldergrove — Patricia — that no longer exists. Now, it is just called South Aldergrove.

While McDonald and Thomasson are pleased the sale proceeds will benefit youth who use Aldergrove Athletic Park, both agree that no one seems to care about old community halls anymore.

“Nobody’s really interested,” said McDonald. “It’s sad but people have moved on.”

Thomasson, who noted the hall was named for Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, remembered when he was head teacher at Patricia School in 1969 and 1970.

“We used to hold the Christmas concerts there but there was no central heating, so I’d have to go two to three hours early to get the wood stove fire really going,” he said.

He also recalled that there were no flush toilets.

“I’d also put a fresh ‘tree’ (air freshener) in the biffy,” he said with a smile.

“It’s too bad. Times have changed and there’s just no support to keep the old halls going. They’re all falling by the wayside.”

Langley Times