It Takes a Village
Nothing brings back fonder memories of childhood as the unsupervised gathering spot of groups of children of all ages. Manchaug Village, Sutton, has that spot in the 3-acre plot of land, located at 7 Darling Lane, simply known by generations as the “Ball Field”. This parcel, officially known as The American Legion Park, needs revitalization. Currently, the playground equipment is outdated, not meeting current consumer safety standards, the basketball court and softball field require maintenance, and there is no parking.
Sutton Recreational Resources, Inc., (SRR) a 501(c)3 organization founded in 2019 by local residents, has stepped up to lead this effort. With a mission of encouraging physical fitness for Sutton’s youth by providing appropriate public recreational spaces, SRR successfully led the fundraising effort to revitalize Unity Park, 7 Boston Road, Wilkinsonville, as well as Jacob Van Dyke Memorial Park, 5 Hough Road, South Sutton, slated for groundbreaking by the town in July 2023. SRR is grateful for the financial assistance provided by local businesses, residents, and other charitable organizations for these projects, and is once again looking for community support.
With project costs for the American Legion Park of $435,000, SRR has an ambitious fundraising goal of $200,000. A 2023 grant from the Sutton Cultural Council of $1,000, as well as preliminary fund-raising, has the group on its way. The project is supported by the Town of Sutton, which has applied for a 50% project cost matching grant. Project information can be found at www.suttonma.org/planning/pages/american-legion-park-renovation.
This green space is the largest, open, public space in Manchaug--a 19th century mill village, named to the National Register of Historic Places, having most homes on small lots. Acquired in the 1940s by the newly-established John Mateychuk Post No. 390 American Legion Department of Massachusetts, Inc. for no fee from Joseph D. Bousquet, Sr. and his wife, Asterie, this property was intended to provide the returning WWII soldiers, who had given so much in service to their country, a place to gather with family and friends to make new, happier memories. Manchaug had two sons killed in action in WWII. John Mateychuk, age 22, Naval Electrician 3rd Class, June 1943, and Robert Manosh, age 21, Army Private 1st Class, April 1945. During Vietnam, the Village lost Dennis Benson, age 21, Army Specialist 4, December 1968. The Town of Sutton acquired the property in 2016 after the closing of the Mateychuk Post.
The park has succeeded in providing memories for generations. For all those living in the Village in the late 60s, the marquee event of the “Ball Field” has to be The Rex Trailer Show performing on an RV at the backstop and the community events which followed, including a greased pig contest. From summer recreation, to softball, little league, men’s softball, soccer, basketball, ice skating on a flooded basketball court, tag, you name it, it happened in this little spot of land that was the whole word to hundreds of area children. This revitalization project will ensure the park continues to be a safe place for not only Sutton’s children to run, explore and socialize, but for children around the greater Blackstone Valley area.
SRR needs a “Village” to ensure the success of this project. For information on how to donate, visit suttonrec.weebly.com, email [email protected], or visit our Facebook page, Sutton Recreational Resources.