County Parks & Recreation master plan approved
The Morgan County Commission unanimously approved a Parks and Recreation master plan for county ball fields and facilities at their Friday, October 19 meeting.
Bruce Beadenkopf, acting director of Morgan County Parks and Recreation, and Parks and Recreation board member Kenny Mason presented a prioritized project plan for the long-range creation and improvement of county recreational facilities.
They were asking for the okay to proceed with the plan, said Commission President Glen Stotler, who sits on the Parks and Recreation board.
Under the plan, all of the youth leagues would move to one location at the Parks and Recreation ball field complex so parents didn't have to drive back and forth from town.
Top of the list
At the top of the priority list was developing the county-owned 9.92 acres across the road from the current ball field complex. From three to four multi-purpose football and soccer fields 360 by 180-feet in size would be created on the site, depending on the terrain.
A concession/restroom/storage building would be installed on the property and a walking track would be put in around the playing fields. Fencing and lighting would be erected around the complex and the shale pit parking lot would be developed.
A 350 by 350-foot softball multi-purpose field would be created in the southeast corner of the county-owned 16 acres south of the current ball field complex. Men's softball would be relocated there.
A concession/restroom/storage building would be placed at the backstop. A drainage system and sprinkler system would be installed on the field as well as backstop and perimeter fencing. A tree line barrier of tall pines would be created.
Youth leagues would move
Once these fields are created, the existing men's Parks and Recreation field would be converted into a little league field to be used by the minor leagues. The backstop would be repaired or replaced for safety and the bases and pitcher's mound moved to accommodate minor leagues.
The fence and backstop on the girls' upper field would be repaired. The T-ball division would be moved from Harmison Field to the Route 522 Girls upper field which will be shared with the girls' league. The parking lot at the ball field complex would be repaired and expanded with lighting added.
Skate park, playground/park
When t-ball is moved from Harmison Field to the U.S. Route 522 fields, one acre of Harmison Field will be used to build the BS2 Bike and Skate Park. The remaining property would be converted into a playground for the Boys and Girls Club.
The skate park organizers are very interested in the location of Harmison Field for their project, said Beadenkopf.
The land behind the Morgan County School Board office will be turned into a playground/park area with a walking trail circling the property and a pavilion with restrooms, said Beadenkopf. Community volunteers were already working on this project, said Stotler.
Money for each project will be sought through grants, fundraising and in-kind donations. All youth groups are supportive of the projects, which will affect over 1,000 adults and children when they are completed. Beadenkopf asked for area individuals or companies that were willing to help in any way to contact Morgan County Parks and Recreation at 258-7710.
Commissioner Tommy Swaim cautioned that there may be room for only two large fields on the nearly 10-acre plot with the terrain issues. Stotler said there could be enough space for two full-size fields and one smaller field. Beadenkopf said they would use all available space.
16-acre plan still a go
An advisory Parks and Recreation committee had recommended several years ago that the 16 acres include walking trails, a pavilion and picnic area, a driveway loop and an amphitheater. Those plans are still the master plan for the site, Stotler said.
A crosswalk could be built over the highway in the future to connect the 16-acre and the 10-acre recreation sites, said Stotler.
Mason said they had to finish the soccer fields first so they could move the little league. Little league may have volunteers to do the excavation, said Stotler.
Soccer needs a home
There are 400-500 kids needing fields for soccer, said Stotler. The soccer leagues need a place to call home, he said. Both he and Mason said that the soccer teams had been moved around from place to place. Commissioner Brenda Hutchinson agreed that the soccer fields were definitely needed.
The plans for the 9.92 acres also included a possible community recreation building, which Stotler said could fit at the site with the multipurpose fields. Beadenkopf said that the high school gym is very busy and that people are going to Berkeley County to use their gyms instead.
Money okayed for sidewalk
The commissioners also okayed $8,000 to complete the sidewalk around the concession building at the ball field complex that leads to the newly renovated 20 by 80-foot pavilion. A viewing deck would also be added.
The sidewalk would also make the restrooms handicapped-accessible, said Stotler. Sleeves for a railing would be put in place. Mason said they thought they could take care of the railing.
Someone was ready to start on the work this week, said Mason. They wanted to have it completed by spring. They hoped to rent out the pavilion for family reunions, said Beadenkopf.
Stotler said they had received grants to make all their concession facilities handicapped-accessible and also had a grant for lighting for the new fields.
Swaim said that the work would help the site be used more for picnics and ball games.
"It's a beautiful place," he said.