The community of Riverside will be the home of a new Miracle League baseball diamond.

Windsor Council made the decision Monday night with a 9-1 vote – after Ward 6 Councillor Jo-Anne Gignac brought forward a late motion.

The city struck a deal with the Riverside Minor Baseball Association that will see the ball club fund the project entirely.  That includes building the Miracle League field – as well as the ongoing maintenance, expected to cost roughly $2.4 million.

The city will in turn lease the land to the RMBA for a dollar a year.

“When we started this, we were told there’s not a chance you’re going to get this, administration is completely against this. And to the person that said that, I said, ‘we’ll see,’” said an ecstatic Bill Kell, who chaired the ‘Save the Park’ project. “You underestimate what the power of the community will do.”

"After we showed them the plan, brought them to our centre and showed them the facility, they agreed that yes, this is the best thing for the city of Windsor,” Kell said.   

The diamond is a fully accessible rubberized playing surface for children and adults with disabilities.                                    

The plan will also see the cenotaph relocated back to its original location along Wyandotte Street, and the addition of trails throughout the existing park.

Ward 6 city councilor Jo-Anne Gignac played an integral role in helping reach a deal that both the RMBA and council could agree with.

“I was absolutely thrilled at the support,” Gignac said after the meeting. “And it's indicative of what they saw in the audience, in way of the community support.”

That support was kick-started tonight in a big way. Businessman and Old Riverside native Rick Farrow pledged $500,000 to get the ball rolling. Kell says the club has about $700,000 of pledged donations to date.

“Rick Farrow stepping up was just a home run," said Gignac.

The agreement is initially for 10 years with two additional options for renewal of 25 years. The city will also work with Riverside Minor Baseball on mutually beneficial projects that could be cost-shared between the two parties.

City staff, acting under the direction of a previous council, was recommending the city sell the subject lands for residential and commercial development.

The agreement – when finalized – will come back to city council for final approval.

The city will also demolish the former Corcord School on the back side of the property and develop the site as low intensity housing.