Soccer Complex in Autumn
Photo by Greg Chorvas, October 2004
CANTINE VETERANS MEMORIAL COMPLEX (also known as Cantine Field)
Thanks to Greg Chorvas for this write-up on Cantine Veterans Memorial Complex.
The Cantine Veterans Memorial Complex is a 127-acre sports and recreation complex owned and operated by the Town of Saugerties under the Department of Parks, Recreation & Buildings.
In the late eighteen-hundreds it was known as the Town Driving Park and owned by the Cantine Family, who allowed the use of their property for recreational purposes.
At that time their was a combination baseball and football field, one other field and a small amount of open space. In the 1930s, the W.P.A. (Works Progress Administration), a publicly funded program to put the unemployed to work, built an elevated grandstand for spectator seating. Restrooms, showers, and storage were accommodated below the seating area.
The combination baseball and football field was completely reversed and remains the same today as the Complex’s main baseball field (Cantine Field, # 11). Two additional fields were added. The project was completed late in 1937.
On May 8, 1938 Martin Cantine, besides contributing a sizeable amount of funding, donated the property, consisting of 31 acres to the Town of Saugerties. At that time it was renamed Cantine Field.
From that point on a pavilion was built, which still stands today as the Small Pavilion, Tennis Courts, a Basketball Court, and two additional fields, one of which was where the Frank D. Greco Memorial Senior Citizen Recreation Center is today.
In the early 1970s, the Knaust Estate donated 39 acres of land, immediately adjacent to the existing field, to the Town of Saugerties. Stipulations were for recreational purposes and the donation of the property was done in honor and memory of all Saugerties veterans of all military branches.
Shortly thereafter, in the mid 1970s through the dedicated and driving efforts of the late Jack Keeley a $99,000 grant was received through the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, under the Land, Water, and Conservation Fund. As part of this Grant, the Town was mandated to match the amount.
A very short time thereafter, in a unique and bizarre scenario, again through Mr. Keeley’s motivation, commitment, and relentless drive, the Town received another $99,000 through a combination of Federal and State Public Works Grants, and that money was allowed to be used as the Town’s match of the Palisades Grant. To the best of knowledge of many, including those familiar with grants, this was indeed very unique and truly a first.
As a result of these two grants six additional ball fields were constructed, including two lighted fields. An existing field was also lighted, as were the Tennis Courts. Additionally construction included the Large Pavilion with kitchenette, Senior Citizen’s Multi Use Recreation Center, playgrounds, basketball courts, horseshoe pits, roadways, parking, and indoor and outdoor shuffle board courts, along with many other recreational amenities.
Upon the completion and dedication of the project, the combined areas was renamed the Cantine Veterans Memorial Complex, in keeping with the wishes of the Knaust Estate and in preserving the memory and generosity of Martin Cantine and family.
As the 1980s progressed so did the evolving of the Cantine Veterans Complex through the combined efforts of volunteers, civic organizations, businesses, and the Town of Saugerties. The organizations that made use of the complex, such as the Little League, Babe Ruth teams, American Legion teams, Saugerties Athletic Association (S.A.A.) teams and others constructed dugouts, spectator bleachers, concession areas and press box buildings. Additionally, these groups purchased in full the professional infield mix, which is on all eleven ball fields. Further, the Kiwanis Club constructed a Bandstand. Many other improvements were added.
At the same time this was occurring Soccer was beginning to grow and since all the lands had been developed, eventually four ball fields were converted to Soccer fields each year in late August.
In 1990, with no room left for expansion, Vernon Benjamin’s administration began the process or purchasing 67 additional acres immediately to the north of the Complex. The purchase was completed near the end of 1991.
The following year a professional firm produced a long term master plan. Once again through the same combination of entities working together, development began to escalate, along with the escalation of volunteers, contributors, and Town commitments. Over $65,000 was raised for Small World Playground. Soccer fields were constructed one by one. Further, the U.S. Army Reserves constructed a large parking area for overflow and special events.
In 1998, the dream of an Olympic size refrigerated Ice Rink in Saugerties became reality when the Kiwanis Club of Saugerties purchased Dasher Boards, Refrigeration Matting, and a Zamboni. A short time thereafter a used Chiller, along with other refrigeration components was purchased. In the fall of 1999, the Kiwanis Club donated the equipment to the Town of Saugerties.
From that point on, to present, the Facility evolved into a state of the art fully enclosed Olympic size refrigerated skating rink. Over the past six years an attached structure was added, which accommodates seven locker rooms, restrooms, a full service concession, and Pro Shop. Additionally, skate rentals, elevated heated spectator seating, and public changing areas were added. Further, used components were replaced with new state of the art high-energy efficient equipment.
This accomplishment has been a unique and amazing story involving community support, spirited volunteerism working continually with the Parks Department, along with local and state government backing through funding, grants and incentives. Further donations and contributions by the Kiwanis Club, other organizations, businesses, and individuals since the beginning totals over $300,000. User fees revenues total over $750,000.
Today, as these revenue avenues increase, the Facility continues to evolve with improvements in the services provided and the many amenities associated with an Ice Arena. This is all carefully planned and carried out dictated by those revenues.
In 2004, as part of an Eagle Scout project, the first phase of Trails was completed on an expansive ridge on the westerly portion of the property acquired in 1991. Several vistas have elevations that allow for spectacular views of the Catskills to the west and the Berkshire range to the east, along with overlooking the entire Complex.
Events and Festivals
The Complex has proudly played host to many prestigious events and festivals such as:
- New York State Special Olympics
- Ulster 300, a Musical Celebration
- The Great German – American Tercentennial
- Ulster County Special Olympics
- Alpo Frisbee Dog Competition
- Babe Ruth State Championship Tournaments
- Babe Ruth Mid Atlantic Championship Tournament
- American Legion Regional and State Finals
- and many other events
Annually, the Complex plays host to the New York Mets Baseball Academy, Antique Auto Show, Fourth of July Celebration and Carnival, Library Book Fair, AYSO Soccer Camp, High School Wrestling Camp, High School Graduation, American Cancer Society Relay For Life, Ulster Fillies Girls Fast Pitch Tournament, numerous High School and College sectional, regional, and state tournaments and competition. Additionally, many Little League, Babe Ruth and other All Star Games and Tournaments are held at Cantine Memorial Complex.
The facilities at the Complex are the “home fields” to the Saugerties Sawyers High School baseball, softball, tennis, and soccer teams. Boys and girls in the Varsity, Junior Varsity, and Modified Sports Programs are accommodated. Further, Ulster County Community College uses the site as their alternate “home field” for the Senators baseball, softball, and soccer games.
Additionally, every year on the last full weekend in September the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival takes place. This is the largest festival of its kind east of the Rocky Mountains. Traditionally, 45,000 – 50,000 people attend the two-day event.
Meet the Staff
||Keith Hartrum, Bill Dougherty
|Ice Arena Director
||Rob Kleemann III
|Ice Arena Managers
||Brett Baschnagel, Dan Koegel, Sean Weaver, Keith Hartrum, Marc Malgieri
|Assistant Buildings & Parks
||Martina Merced, Jim Beaver, Jeremy Fredenburg, Barry Mower, Darren Overbaugh, Brandon Harkin, Pete Stark, Joe Dittus, Keith Hartrum III, Matt Nilsen, Anne Westergard, Alene Woerthman
||Walt Baschnagel, Jim Speirs, Tom Speirs, Joe Bisignano, Joe Whittam
|Summer Day Camp Director
||Ray Mayone Jr.
Other Town Parks
- Glasco Little League Complex: Ballfields, Open Areas (Open March - November)
- Glasco Mini-Park: Riverfront, Boat Launching, Picnic Area
- Bigelow Park, Malden: Basketball Court, Playgound (Open March - November)
- MaldenMini-Park: Riverfront, Boat Launching, Picnic Area
- Mt. Marion Park: Basketball Court, Picnic, Pavilion, Playground (Open March - November
- Barclay Heights: Ballfield, Basketball, Playground (Open March - November)
Open daily year-round, except Christmas and Thanksgiving.
FROM THE SOUTH: Take the New York State Thruway (87) to Exit 20 "Saugerties" which is near mile marker 100. Off of the exit and thru toll booths, make a right turn onto Route 212, which also becomes Ulster Avenue over the railroad tracks, go straight for 0.9 miles until the road goes either left or right. Make a left turn and go straight for 0.5 miles through heavy residential area and then you will come to a large open expanse of area which is the Cantine Veterans Memorial Complex (Large sign at entrance adjacent to flagpole). Make a right turn, at this point, onto Bob Moser Drive. You are now in the Complex.
FROM THE NORTH: Take the New York State Thruway (87) to Exit 20 "Saugerties" which is near mile marker 101. Off of the exit and thru the toll booths, make a left turn onto Route 32 for 0.2 miles to traffic light, make a left turn onto Route 212, which also becomes Ulster Avenue over the railroad tracks, go straight for 1.1 miles until the road goes either to the left or right. Make a left turn and go straight for 0.5 miles through heavy residential area and then you will come to a large open expanse of area which is the Cantine Veterans Memorial Complex (Large sign at entrance adjacent to flagpole). Make a right turn, at this point, onto Bob Moser Drive. You are now in the Complex.
TO DEPARTMENT OFFICE: Once in the Complex on Bob Moser Drive, proceed to the "T" in roadway at Moser and Pavilion. Take Pavilion Street straight past Court Drive. Once you past the last ball field on the left, there will be a large green structure on the left. Department Office is on the near side of this Building as you drive up.
TO KIWANIS ICE ARENA: Once in the Complex on Bob Moser Drive, proceed to the "T" in roadway at Moser and Pavilion. Take Pavilion Street straight past Court Drive. Once you past the last ball field on the left, the roadway narrows and becomes Small World Avenue. Continue on Small World Avenue past the Soccer Complex to the Ice Arena.
TO LARGE PAVILION AND CONFERENCE CENTER: Once in the Complex on Bob Moser Drive, take the first left onto Pavilion Street to the first structure, on your right, just past the playground.
TO FRANK D. GRECO MEMORIAL SENIOR CITIZEN MULTI-PURPOSE CENTER: Just before you reach Bob Moser Drive, off of Market Street, on your right is a large structure gray in color which is the Multi-Purpose Center.
Today, the Cantine Veterans Memorial Complex has:
- 11 Ball Fields, 5 lighted
- 4 Regulation size soccer fields, two lighted
- 1 Olympic size, fully enclosed refrigerated Ice Arena with related components and amenities
- 4 Lighted tennis courts
- 4 Pavilions, with full service Kitchenettes
- 1 conference center
- 1 Senior Citizen’s Multi Purpose Recreation Center
- 3 basketball courts
- 3 playgrounds, including Small World Playground
- 1 enclosed bandstand
- 2 covered grandstands
- Indoor and outdoor shuffleboard courts
- Many picnic areas and barbeque equipment
- Open space
High School Graduation at the Kiwanis Ice Arena
NY Mets Academy at Cantine Field
Santa Visits the Kiwanis Ice Arena
Soccer Complex (Aerial View)
Kiwanis Ice Arena (Aerial View)