The construction of a Miracle League baseball field can proceed in New Albany after the authorization of a lease agreement with the city and the New Albany-Plain Local Joint Parks District.

New Albany City Council on Nov. 8 approved a resolution authorizing City Manager Joe Stefanov to enter into a lease with the parks district for 5 acres on the north side of Swickard Woods Boulevard.

The lease will cost the parks district a one-time $10 fee, according to city spokesman Scott McAfee.

The parks district then will sublease the land to the New Albany Miracle League. The area will include a baseball field, a handicap-accessible playground, a parking lot and possibly a building that could complement other public uses on Swickard Woods Boulevard, according to an Oct. 31 legislative report to council members.

Under the terms of the lease agreement, the city will be able to approve the development's design. If the field were not developed, the land would revert to city property.

The 10-year lease also could be extended with city approval.

The site originally was part of 45 acres the New Albany Co. had donated to the city, the New Albany-Plain Local School District and Plain Township, said Tom Rubey, director of development for the New Albany Co. The area now includes a school building, the township swimming pool and New Albany High School baseball and softball diamonds.

The land for the Miracle League field is between the school building and the pool, Rubey said.

Dr. Kevin Klingele, chief of orthopedics at Nationwide Children's Hospital, decided to bring a Miracle League program to New Albany after being introduced to the program through children he treated.

The goal of a Miracle League, Klingele said, is to provide opportunities for children with physical or mental disabilities to do something they otherwise typically wouldn't be able to do -- in this case, play baseball.

Each nonprofit league has a special outdoor field with a surface that can accommodate wheelchairs and children with special needs, he said. Children are teamed up with teens and young people who serve as "buddies" during the games.

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