MOUNT PLEASANT — Smolenski Park is poised to have a couple changes coming its way in the form of a new sports field and a land restoration project.
After about a year-and-a-half of discussion, the village’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board has agreed to help a group of local cricket players install a cricket field at one of the village’s parks. The village is working with the group, led by team captain Pradip Patel, to determine the best location for the field. During the advisory board’s Thursday meeting, board members leaned toward Smolenski Park, 438 S. Stuart Road, though nothing has been officially determined.
Cricket, a sport that originated in England, is played around the world, but it has struggled to gain a large audience in the United States. The United States of America Cricket Association estimates that there are 25,000 active players in the U.S., while the International Cricket Council estimates there are 300 million players throughout the world.
Patel and his team have offered to pay for the installation of a 66-foot-long, 6½-foot-wide cricket pitch in Mount Pleasant. Patel said the team has to travel to Oak Creek whenever it wants to practice, so it wants to bring a field to the village.
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board was enthusiastic about the idea. Brittany Bodnar, the village’s recreation director, floated the idea of a one-day youth cricket clinic. The village already hosts one-day clinics for soccer, tennis, golf and basketball.
Patel and several of his teammates expressed interest in teaching children to play the sport. If the clinics went over well enough, Bodnar said, the village could even start a league eventually.
“Who knows what it could become a few years down the road?” Bodnar said.
Patel, an Indian immigrant, said he is excited to share cricket — which is hugely popular in India — with the local community.
Also on the horizon for Smolenski Park is a restoration of 15 acres of prairie made possible by a partnership between Mount Pleasant and Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network.
Funded by $68,000 in grants, the restoration would improve an area on the north side of the park by removing invasive species and creating a new trail, according to Root-Pike WIN. Thirty-five native prairie plant species will be planted in the invasive species’ place.
The funding accounts for five years of upkeep.
“Smolenski Park is a special part of the heritage of Mount Pleasant and this prairie restoration represents the village’s ongoing commitment to water quality, flood mitigation, habitat improvements and passive recreation,” Dave Giordano, Root-Pike WIN’s executive director, said in a news release announcing the project.