WESTBROOK – It wasn’t long after Mike and Tim White started buying up property in 2004 for a quarry off Small Hardy Road that they started talking about donating land for athletic fields there.
As kids growing up on Duck Pond Road, the brothers — former owners of White Bros. Construction — knew firsthand about the lack of recreational space in the northern end of the city.
As active members of their community, they’d also listened to the long-running debate about how to fill that need.
“It’s been a constant on-and-off theme for many years,” Mike White, 57, said Wednesday.
Tim White, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), died in December at the age of 52.
Since then, his older brother has made sure to follow through with the concept that the two of them had talked about for years.
White Bros., which was sold last year to Connecticut-based Lane Construction, has offered the city 14 acres near its quarry to use for athletic fields. The company is also donating its workers and equipment to build the two fields — an estimated $400,000 gift.
“It’s an unbelievable blessing for the city,” City Councilor Victor Chau said last Monday, before voting in favor of an agreement to lease the land for 25 years for $25.
The council also voted to spend $26,400 on the engineering and design of the fields. City Administrator Jerre Bryant said that cost would be covered by donations. He wouldn’t say who was donating the money because those deals hadn’t been finalized.
The company still needs permits from the city’s Planning Board and the state’s Department of Environmental Protection before starting construction, which White hopes to do just after Thanksgiving.
The multipurpose fields will probably be ready to use in 2013.
Maria Dorn, Westbrook’s community services director, said there’s an ever-increasing demand for soccer fields in the city.
“Everybody’s on them all the time,” she said.
Priority for playing time on the fields will go to the Westbrook Soccer League, which serves 300 kids from age 3 to 13 years old.
Mike White said he and his brother never cared what sports were played on the fields. It was just important to them to give back to their community. In 2006, White Bros. made a similar contribution toward the construction of a skate park next to the Hannaford store on William Clarke Drive.
When the brothers decided to sell their company, started by their father and uncle in 1955, it was imperative that the new owner shared their philosophy, White said. They let Lane know that donating the fields was part of the deal.
“A lot of companies would have blown it off,” said White, who now works as the Westbrook plant manager. “Lane (executives) said, ‘What a great idea.’ “
City Councilor Mike Sanphy, who represents Westbrook’s north end, said the latest donation both fills a void in that area and further solidifies the Whites’ reputation.
“Anytime you ask for something, they’re always there to give a hand,” he said, “and never looking for anything in return.”
Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at: 791-6364 or at: