Fastpitch diamond closer to reality hereJamestown is one step closer to having a ball diamond dedicated to fastpitch softball after Monday’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting. Commissioners heard an hour-long presentation on the conversion of diamond 11 in McElroy Park.
By: By Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Jamestown is one step closer to having a ball diamond dedicated to fastpitch softball after Monday’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting.
Commissioners heard an hour-long presentation on the conversion of diamond 11 in McElroy Park.
Joan Morris, a CPA at Agri-Cover and former chair of the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce, compiled data along with Mike Neumiller, project engineer at Agri-Cover.
The two estimated the total cost to be around $70,000. Agri-Cover also agreed to lend three staff members for their assistance in the project if need be, Morris said.
By a 4-0 vote Parks and Recreation Commission agreed to cover $30,000 of that and act as fiscal agent in the project with $15,000 each possible from the Jamestown Public School District and Jamestown College.
Commissioner Joyce Heinrich was absent from the meeting.
“When I see stuff like that where there’s the possibility of tournaments or bringing players to town, that’s what I get excited about,” Morris said.
Parks and Recreation is the starting point for the project. Morris said she will discuss with the Jamestown Public School Board and Jamestown College about the possibility of securing $15,000 in funding from each entity.
The district is operating with about $800,000 in deficit spending for the 2012-2013 school year.
Kevin Gall, Jamestown College softball coach, said the school hasn’t signed any papers but is “very interested” in providing the $15,000 amount.
“The college, they haven’t put it in writing yet but they’re very interested in doing something,” Gall said.
Another $10,000 has been raised in donations that would be used in part for the scoreboard, Morris said. Diamond 11 would also include a backstop and two dugouts, along with fencing.
The three entities — the high school, the college and youth leagues — will field teams to play on diamond 11 when completed. The diamond will be built to specifications mandatory for fastpitch or it will use moveable outfield fences.
Morris said she was “appalled” after she saw the current fastpitch diamond in comparison with Jack Brown Stadium, which she called “the Wrigley Field of North Dakota.”
“As a taxpayer I would like to see that my tax dollars are used in the wisest way,” Morris said of the different groups using the facility.
Commissioner Larry Knoblich asked if tax dollars should go to benefit teams at a private school.
“As a taxpayer are you willing to pay for the college football team, the college basketball team, the college softball team, et cetera ... Are we as a park board responsible for helping the college having a good field?” he asked.
Parks and Recreation Director Doug Hogan said there will be conflicts on when to use the field because women’s slowpitch softball added two teams that would use all the fields in that portion of McElroy Park.
“We still have slowpitch and from a Parks and Rec standpoint I can’t tell them ‘sorry you’re going to have to eliminate some teams because of field space,’” Hogan said.
Morris presented national data that showed the number of high school girls playing fastpitch softball —the fourth most participated-in girls’ sport in the nation.
He also noted that parks and recreation departments in Aberdeen, S.D., Dickinson, Bismarck, West Fargo and Williston all only offer fastpitch softball.
“My question is why haven’t we done something before now when we look at this? ...” Morris said. “I look at this and I’m thinking there’s a whole population here of young girls that aren’t being served.”
Jamestown Parks and Recreation will handle the money and the bid letting. However, funding from the other sources needs to be approved.
In other news the Board of Commissioners approved a 4 percent cost-of-living raise for employees. It also approved an additional merit-based pay increase for five other employees.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.com