HARWICH ─ Summer always brings something new to the teams of the Cape Cod Baseball League. New players. New host families. And this summer at Whitehouse Field, something everyone will love: new restrooms.
Construction officially began on the facilities several weeks ago when ground was finally broken, beginning a project decades in the making.
“The building has begun. The hole has been dug. The forms have been poured, and we're just waiting now for Mother Nature,” said Harwich Athletic Association President Mary Henderson. “But we're proceeding and are hoping to be done for the D3 college baseball tournament in the middle of May.”
The 2017 event is slated for May 17-21 at Whitehouse Field and features regional competition beginning May 17 until a New England champion is crowned during the weekend.
“We go above and beyond when that tournament comes,” said Henderson. “We open the concession stand and help handle the announcers and getting the food in, which is under the tournament, but we put an extra hand in.”
Henderson said the NCAA enjoys having the event there as the field is top notch (and thanks to a lighting upgrade in recent years, now has television-quality light). But the lack of formal restroom facilities was challenging. For years the Harwich Mariners organization has utilized portable toilets at the field, something Henderson said was a definite negative among a wealth of positives.
“There are people that don't like porta-potties and won't come to the field,” she said. “Or they'd go home. We've needed bathrooms for years. We decided this year that it was something we really needed to do, so we've been fundraising, sending out letters, and trying to get as much support as possible.”
Though the organization still has funds to raise and has received helpful donations from longtime fans and supporters, the non-profit Mariners organization is hopeful that through their Plum Fund campaign they'll be successful in covering the costs of the project.
While Whitehouse is traditionally known as the home field of the Harwich Mariners Cape Cod Baseball League team, the field is also the home field of the Monomoy boys baseball team, and is also used by numerous local organizations. It falls under the management of the Harwich Recreation Department.
Henderson and Elizabeth Layton, a longtime volunteer in various capacities with the Mariners, which is operated primarily by volunteers, said the restroom facilities will be similar to those behind the Chatham Community Center and will feature three men's and women's toilets, with a handicapped stall in each.
Layton said she doesn't think anyone will miss the portable toilets.
“When the warm weather comes, you won't be sitting in the bleachers when the wind blows getting the whiff of...well, porta-potty,” she said.
Instead, fans will have a cleaner, more spacious restroom area, and the air will instead be perfumed by freshly baked cookies and hot dogs on the grill.
Now that ground has been officially broken and the foundation forms for the structure poured, Henderson and Layton are even more excited for summer, and hope that visual evidence of the project will inspire people to give what they're able to the Plum Fund campaign.
“I think now that ground has broken, people see that it's an actual project, that it's actually happening,” Layton said. “Breaking ground gave us the hope that baseball season is actually in sight now.”
Click here to make a donation toward the restroom facilities at Whitehouse Field.