(Photo by John Cook) This aerial view of Vassar Memorial Park – formerly the Vassar Fairgrounds – shows the layout of the acreage. City leaders are considering creating a new youth football field in the grassy area above the evergreen trees at the top of the photo, left of the dirt road.

The folks redeveloping a former Vassar foundry have scored a touchdown with Daniel Smith.

Frank DeNardo Jr., president and chief executive officer of Canapa Valley Farms that plans to manufacture beverages and cannabis products at the former foundry at 700 E. Huron Ave., donated $25,000 to the city of Vassar last month for a new youth football field.

“I was just super excited for our kids and our community, and also excited for the kids in the communities surrounding us,” said Smith, president of the board of directors overseeing Vassar Youth Football and Cheerleading.

Smith, 36, of Vassar, stressed that a child doesn’t have to reside in the Vassar area to join one of the program’s football or cheerleading squads for youths from ages 7 to 12.

Program participants regularly come from Reese or Mayville to take part in the program, according to Smith, a 2003 Vassar High School graduate who was Vassar High School’s starting varsity quarterback as a senior, junior and for part of his sophomore year.

About 85 youths participated in the football and cheerleading program last year, said Smith, who made his mark as a Vassar High athlete in several sports, starting as a freshman on the basketball team and receiving all-state honors as a baseball player.

Vassar City Manager Andrew Niedzinski said the city is considering moving the program’s youth football field from its location on the east side of Water Street to a spot at Vassar Memorial Park, formerly the Vassar Fairgrounds.

“The youth football program stores all its equipment at the fairgrounds,” Niedzinski said. “So we thought ‘Well, it would be a great idea to move their field over by the ball diamonds at the fairgrounds, and create more of a sports complex.’”

Smith said he hopes city leaders and youth football and cheerleading program volunteers can develop not only a new football field, but a scoreboard and bleachers for spectators.

The existing youth football field sits on about two acres of land on the east side of Water Street, south of Arch Street. Two more acres of city-owned land sit across Water Street on the site of the former wastewater treatment plant.

Visitors park cars at the former treatment plant property, and children and adults cross Water Street to reach the football field.

Smith said creation of a new field at the fairgrounds, along Walnut Street leading off North Cass Avenue, would “make it a little more safe for us” as football players, cheerleaders and spectators wouldn’t have to cross Water Street to reach the football field.

Niedzinski said the city is considering creating the new football field on the spot where a concrete basketball court exists at the former fairgrounds. Youth baseball and softball fields are at the same property.

Smith said it costs a child $80 for the season to take part in the youth program, and participants receive their uniforms and equipment for that price.

Anyone wishing to donate to the Vassar Youth Football and Cheerleading program may call Smith at 989-823-4681.

Niedzinski said Canapa Valley Farms representatives asked him to create a list of projects in Vassar that the company could back with a donation.

“I gave them a list of different items, and Frank (DeNardo Jr.) was involved in youth football when he was younger, and that was the item that they chose,” Niedzinski said. “They gave us the money for that purpose, and that’s what they’re expecting us to spend the money on.”