City and township hold key to special needs complex

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The plans are in place and the money is available to build a special needs athletic facility in Canfield Township on Route 46 between the fairgrounds and Western Reserve Road.

But standing between special needs people and their dreams are water and sewer lines that need to be run from Canfield City into the township.

The facility, once constructed, will be named Halstead Field of Opportunity. It will include three baseball fields, a track, soccer field and gymnasium, all built for people with special needs.

The idea for the facility came during estate planning between BrokerOne Financial Adviser Allen Conti and landowner Robert Halstead. The field would be named after Halstead’s late father.

“Specially designed fields so that they can fall, trip, things like that,” said Conti. It’s wheelchair enabled.”

The plans were drawn up and the $4 million was set aside for the project, but water and sewer lines end a mile and a half away at the Canfield Fairgrounds, which creates a problem for the project. Conti said the City of Canfield is reluctant at this point to extend water lines into the township.

“The policy of the city has been a long-standing policy of not extending lines outside of the city limits without annexation,” said Canfield City Manager Joe Warino.

There also doesn’t seem to be any movement from the township either. Canfield Township Trustee Marie Izzo said trustees are not in favor of annexation of any sort.

Shari Lewis has a special needs son and helped plan the complex. She is hopeful a compromise can be made.

“I think we’ll get upset if it turns out to be kind of a dead end,” said Lewis. “We’re still really hopeful. We’re going to find the right thing to do here and find the right people to support us and get us what we need.”

The obstacles are several. Studies need to be done and landowners along Route 46 must agree to allow easements onto their properties.

“I think that’s an awful lot to ask,” said Izzo. “I don’t believe that’s going to happen.”

“It’s not an easy solution,” said Warino. “If it was contiguous to the city or something that you’d be dealing with one property owner, it might be a little more palpable.”

If the water and sewer lines don’t happen, members of the group looking to build the complex said they will scale back the project and use what they have.

“I really believe in their heart of hearts, my heart of hearts, if they want a center here that the City of Canfield would be more than happy to provide us with water and sewer,” said Conti.

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