Ball diamond redevelopment to be considered in budget 2018

From left: Tyler Edworth and Scott Richardson speak about a ball diamond revitalization project during the Nov. 28 Council meeting. – Lucie Roy Photo

by Lucie Roy

Council will consider a proposal to redevelop the Shell Diamonds behind the arena into a full-size Hardball Diamond during the 2018 Budget after receiving a presentation from Tyler Edworthy of Morinville’s Community Services Department and Councillor Scott Richardson, representing Morinville Minor Baseball.

Richardson stepped away from his Council chair to speak on the matter because he is Morinville Minor Baseball President.

Edworthy said the resurgence in the Minor Baseball program registration lead to him asking for direction on a $35,000 investment for 2018 in redeveloping of the Shell Diamonds. This would allow the Minor Baseball program, not only to grow but also play a higher level of baseball.

“Apparently, we do not have ball diamonds fitted for our Bantam Widgets player’s teams, so we are very limited on that as to what ball can actually be played locally,” Edworthy said.

Since the report was submitted, Edworthy said they met with Minor Soccer Association and they are in full support of the project, which would remove a soccer pitch from that location. The support is conditional on the Notre Dame Sports field being up and running for 2018, something that was prevented last year due to grass not taking as well as it should.

Edworthy is hoping local community groups, including Minor Ball will offset some of the project costs.

Councillor Lawrence Giffin raised concerns with children playing at the water park and if that was a safety issue with a baseball hit in that direction.

Edworthy said in his experience that would be approximately 550-foot hit to reach the splash park at that location which is a lot further than most professional players would be able to hit.

Giffin raised concerns with children playing in the area and mentioned it would be prudent to put a fence up, which Edworthy confirmed the proposal includes a fence.

Councillor Nicole Boutestein questioned the wording of the $35,000 proposal as a temporary solution and if they would be looking for a different solution in two or three years.

Edworthy replied the $35000 investment would be utilized going forward and this is a temporary solution as minor ball has almost tripled over the last five years. As such, the need for more ball diamonds is increasing and additional asks will be following in the future if the same trends occur.

Edworthy said project estimates include estimates for the $10,000 new outfield fence, $10,000 for infield redevelopment and $15,000 for the dugout for a total estimate of $35,000. Unknown is how much shale they are going to need trucked in from Lethbridge and so quite expensive

CAO Andy Insister said early concepts for the recreation lands east of town include four ball diamonds located on that site, but they may not be built or ready for five to seven years.

Given the cost of a new ball diamond is in the $100,000 range, Isbister said the $35,000 proposed is a relatively low-cost solution to get the community to the next five years.

“Ultimately we need to have more than four diamonds built at the rec site but that will come once we have an opportunity to update our long-range master recreation plan which I would think will be coming in the next years’ time,” Isbister said. “At this point in time, we strongly recommend the support of spending this money. If we can get some donations to help support the cost, it could be relatively less than $35,000.”

Deputy Mayor Dafoe queried Richardson as to how many of the 280 minor ball players are from Morinville and how many are from Sturgeon County, to which Richardson replied about 60 per cent were from Morinville.

CAO Isbister said approximately $100,000 in cost sharing from Sturgeon County for recreation covers curling, ball diamonds, soccer pitches and such.

In respnse to another of Dafoe’s questions, Richardson said Hardball Diamonds do exist in Legal and Bon Accord.

A motion as made to support this project going forward to the 2018 budget process was made by Councillor Giffin and passed unanimously.

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