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Local InterestNew Level Sports Ministries Facility Opens This FallLarry Rizor (left) with Chris McCoyWith help from multiple community businesses, local residents and a gener- ous matching donation of $50,000 from an anonymous donor, the New Level Sports Ministries football, soccer and rugby field will open on the west end of Battle Creek, this fall.The mission to create an all encom- passing recreational field began in the summer of 2001 when Chris McCoy, Executive Director of New Level Sports Ministries (NLSM), opened its doors to the public. With a focus on the youth of the community, Chris worked tirelessly to create a safe and welcoming space that young people could use to be cre- ative, learn new skills and participate in league teams.In 2010, a youth summit was held with students who attended the NLSM after school program, parents and com- munity members from the west end. Together they formed a future vision for the NLSM Youth Village, a complex and sports field that would house basketball courts, a children’s playground, daycare, and a multi-use field.Chris states, “From that first summit, to this day, our focus has been the youth, and a place for them to have something where they can play, work and live. To take this location and transform it into something where that can really happen is very important to me and through hard work our community’s vision is begin- ning to take shape.”With a proposed cost of three mil- lion dollars to complete the full project, NLSM created a capital fund to help in developing the west end block.In August of 2015, at the Battle Creek Community Foundation’s Annual12 SCENE 4307 I ANNUAL REPORT CARDMeeting, President and CEO Brenda L. Hunt spoke on the importance of revital- izing the west end. She spoke on Burn- ham Brook Community Center and its evolution into the Kool Family Commu- nity Center and of moving further west in the next stage of the revitalization, creating a vision of the community that fit with the projected goals of New Level Sports.During this time, Chris worked with Dr. Green of Michigan State University’s landscaping program to create blueprints and a proposed budget. Through NLSM’s work with the University, a Science Tech- nology Engineering and Math (STEM) program was created to help some of the afterschool students learn a possible fu- ture career. After a BCCF program, Chris informed Brenda of this work.The 2017 Annual Meeting saw an all day event at the future multi-use field, culminating with the public announce- ment of a fund being created at the Foun- dation to begin renovation of the field immediately.Over the next six months the Battle Creek Community Foundation and New Level Sports Ministries worked to raise the proposed $120,000.00 needed to excavate and convert the future NLSM multi-use field. Reaching this goal would not have been possible without the matching donation of $50,000.00 contributed by an anonymous donor.Local retired architect, Larry Rizor, began advising the team on contractors, excavation, and landscaping. Larry ex- plains his impetus for helping. “The community often times waits for the savior to get involved. I believe Battle Creek needs to be more grass roots, liftourselves up. Making it happen – not waiting for it to happen.” Larry contin- ues, “Creating this green space, close to downtown, on major arteries, will en- hance the surrounding properties, and with the addition of the planned city de- velopment, will create a renaissance type feel on the West End.”This past winter saw the field exca- vated, large boulders were dug up and removed from the lot, with the field be- ing leveled this past spring. As of June 1, 2018, the ground was seeded, with the turf getting the needed time to grow for the planned opening of the field on Sep- tember 1.Fencing, lighting, a billboard and seating are still some of the many things needed to complete the multi-use field. But as Chris McCoy looks over the field and smiles he has a simple takeaway. “It is encouraging people in this communi- ty, this village and the surrounding areas. To see what we can actually do together, a little bit at a time, taking this field and transforming it into something special.”Larry Rizor agrees and adds. “We cannot wait for magic, some outside group to develop our communities fu- ture. We need to grab it and create our own and it starts with projects like these. This project on the West End, this Youth Village. This is the work, getting behind small businessmen and visionaries to create a new Battle Creek that can attract future generations.”Through hard work and careful plan- ning, the future is beginning to look bright for west end development, with New Level Sports Ministries Youth Vil- lage acting as an anchor for continued growth in the area.

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