Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bridgeforth Field lighting issues has to take priority

City agency is working on new pitch for series

By Vic Bradshaw
The Winchester Star

Winchester — Brad Veach is working on a new pitch to bring a national youth baseball tournament to the city.

Veach, who directs the city Department of Parks and Recreation, is revamping his funding proposal for the 2011 Cal Ripken-Babe Ruth 10-Year-Old World Series.

His goal is to provide an acceptable alternative in case the department does not receive a $100,000 grant.

“Our goal is, we need to say we’re not going to need any new tax dollars,” Veach said Friday.

City Council President Jeff Buettner said Monday that he hopes the council can back the series.

But he said he cannot support spending much money on the event while other departments are facing spending cuts in the next budget.

“With the school budget we’re looking at, with [state funding] cuts to the police department, it’s not on my list of priorities,” Buettner said. “I don’t know how to fit it into this budget when we’ve got so many other pressing concerns .... If the number gets small enough, it’s something we should look at.”

Veach’s initial pitch at the council’s December work session called for the city government to spend up to $273,000 to attract the event — $158,000 for improvements to Yost Field, $75,000 for operating expenses, and $40,000 for the contract fee.

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No matter how you look at it ... Tax dollars = Tax dollars!

“Our goal is, we need to say we’re not going to need any new tax dollars,” Veach said Friday.

To avoid asking for new tax dollars, he hopes to be able to use parks and recreation reserve funds — money the department didn’t use in previous years — to cover some expenses.

City records indicate that the department under-spent its budget by $430,000 during the last three years. In the past, Veach said, the money has been used to buy playground and mowing equipment and cover unexpected repairs.

However, Buettner views the reserve funds as money to be used for emergencies or one-time capital projects. “To me,” he said, “this is neither of those.”

If anything, Bridgeforth Field has many, many dark spots in that outfield.

Catchers in the bullpen are catching in the dark basically.  Again, another safety issue because of insufficient lighting on a 32yr old facility.  Why would the WPRD put up that light pointing into the 3rd base bullpen years ago if there were not lighting issues?

The majority of those lights have been there for 32yrs except for the one pole on the 1st base side that fell down in 1998-1999.

Did not the lights get replaced on Yost Field 14 yrs ago when their was a major improvement as $40,000 was given to WPRD as a result of Rouss Park baseball field/land sale to Shenandoah University.

Unfortunately, the park reserve funds could be a situation now, where if did not use it, you will lose it.  Wonder if certain improvement could have been made over the last 3yrs with those surplus fund?

There is a real safety issue with the lighting at Bridgeorth, no doubt about it.  Bridgeforth has to take priority since the majority of those lights have been there for nearly 32yrs.

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