The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

BEACON Athletics Weekly Updates / And Deals ! (Nov.)

Float Dragging Protocol  !

When you’re at mid-season, you’re submersed in the intense maintenance of infield skins. One of the groundskeeper’s most important responsibilities in maintaining a ballfield is to ensure that the infield skin is firm, yet resilient, and that the surface grade is maintained properly so there are no low spots on the skin that will hold water from rain. The infield skin should have a consistent and smooth slope away from the infield in order to quickly surface drain rainwater off the infield. The slope is managed through the daily nail dragging and float dragging of the infield skin surface. In a previous post, we talked about nail dragging protocol for infield skins. Now, we’ll look at the second portion of the operation, float dragging.

Float dragging is the finishing portion of maintaining the infield skin surface. There are several different tools to use to give you a finished feel and look to the skin area. The common ones include the ever-popular steel mat drag, the cocoa mat drag, and the broom drag.
floatdrag1

    • STEEL MAT DRAG: Can be used in any type of soil. It is the only finish drag that will break up small soil clumps. Because of the way this drag is constructed, it transports infield material around because the steel mat drag must load up before it will drop off material. This can be used to a groundskeepers advantage to help cut down high spots and fill low spots.

floatdrag2

    • COCOA MAT DRAG:Should be used only on topdressed or very sandy infields. These drags are made using a dense stand of cocoa fibers embedded in a vinyl backing. Because these fibers are so dense, there is little if any transporting of infield materials. If you are towing one of these behind a vehicle, I highly recommend a leveling bar being attached in front of the cocoa drag to disperse any large piles of loose infield material or topdressing since the cocoa drag can’t grab it.

floatdrag3

  • DRAG BROOM: Just like the cocoa mat drag, the drag broom works best on topdressed infields and very sandy infield soils. They will not break up the soil chunks seen on heavier soil infields. Drag brooms hover over the surface, smoothing them out without transporting excess material.

I’m often asked, “Which drag should I get?” The answer is somewhat complicated. The steel mat drag works on any type of infield skin. The cocoa mat drags and the drag brooms work best on topdressed or very sandy infields. But ultimately, I like to have both a steel mat and a cocoa mat or drag broom in my shed. Why? Because the steel mat drag I will use whenever I need to manipulate my infield material by moving soil from high spots to low spots. Then, on a topdressed field, I would also have the cocoa mat or drag broom in my shed for when I just want to hover over the infield skin to just smooth everything out without transporting any material around. It’s a small price to pay to have all your options available for maintaining your infield skin.

When actually float dragging the infield skin, keep these tips in mind:

  • If pulling your drag with a vehicle proceed slowly, especially when cornering, to avoid “bowling out” the skin area.
  • Keep the vehicle towed drag at least 6 inches away from the infield skin edges. Use a hand drag to go along the edges. You will have more accurate control of the hand drag.
  • Just like when nail dragging, float drag your skinned areas in patterns perpendicular to each other to insure a smooth playing surface.
  • Start your float dragging in high areas (along the back arc edge of the infield or the 1st & 3rd base corners of a baseball infield) and finish in low spots (around bases and players positions) to help reduce low spots which lead to water ponding in rain situations.
  • Use a leveling bar in front of a towed drag mat to grab piles of loose material and spread them out ahead of the drag mat.
  • If hand dragging, walk a steady pace and don’t bounce your arm that you are pulling the drag with in order to avoid the drag bouncing and leaving ripples on the skin surface.
  • When finished, use a sifting shovel to screen any contaminants (rocks, pebbles, sticks, grass clippings, etc.) from the spoils left at the end of the drag and follow up using a level board to evenly distribute the remaining spoils around the area.

By properly maintaining the surface grade of your infield you will reduce, if not eliminate, any problems you will face during rainy weather. Additionally, the infield skin will play more true for the players who scamper around your infield.

Paul Zwaska

Paul Zwaska

A former head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles, Paul graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1984 with a Bachelor’s in Soil Science with a specialty in Turf & Grounds Management. Paul took over as head groundskeeper for the Orioles’ final season at old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and then was heavily involved throughout the design and construction phases of Oriole Park at Camden Yards which debuted on April 4, 1992. Paul has led Technical Sales Support at Beacon Athletics since the summer of 2000. In 2012, Paul authored and oversaw the launch of “Groundskeeper University”, the first online ballfield maintenance training venue. Over the years, Paul has donated thousands of hours working with West Madison Little League, which also plays a critical role in the research and development for many of Beacon’s innovative field maintenance tools.

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Yorktown sports complex set to open this spring !

YORKTOWN – A new 15-acre, $6 million facility that includes various ball courts, a putting green and a walking path is set to open this spring.

Granite Knolls sports and recreation complex on Stony Street will have basketball, pickleball and handball courts, as well as four fields that will be used by various schools and for tournaments.

There will be a charge for field use, but the rest of the activities are free for anyone. Officials expect the fields to open in March, and the courts to follow in May. Field rates have not yet been set.

“This will be ready to go for spring sports,” said Todd Orlowski, the superintendent of the Parks and Recreation Department, which will manage the facility. He didn’t have an exact date. 

During a recent tour, colored lines crisscrossed two of the fields that will soon host lacrosse and other sports. Blue is for the Yorktown High boys lacrosse team. Lakeland High field hockey gets the maroon, and football gets the white — the colored lines set the regulation boundaries for each sport.

There will also be a regulation-size baseball diamond and a smaller, handicap-accessible diamond for adult softball, kickball and other activities.

A concession building is ready, a basketball court still needs work, and the six pickleball courts will soon take shape. Handball courts are nearly finished, and there’s also a putting green coming.

Surrounding the fields, which are all artificial turf, is a half-mile path for walkers and runners that will link to 75 miles of town walking and mountain biking trails. There will also be a picnic area.

Officials want Granite Knolls to make money for the town by marketing it to the region. Town Supervisor Ilan Gilbert said the complex could generate revenue by charging organizations or teams from surrounding communities that want it for tournaments or other events.

The facility is being paid for by Enbridge, the successor to Spectra Energy, which is replacing sections of the Algonquin gas pipeline that runs through town with a larger line. Enbridge has used a portion of the town’s other recreational complex, Legacy Fields, during the pipeline work, so it agreed to pay for Granite Knolls.

“It’s state of the art,” Gilbert said. Officials are looking to create 240 parking spaces, and more bleachers still need to be set up for spectators.

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
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Family Sports Park is an economic engine !

O’Fallon, IL. is recognized throughout the Midwest for its parks and recreation facilities and programming. Thousands of O’Fallon residents and visitors play on our state-of-the-art baseball and soccer fields at the Family Sports Park every week. The Sports Park has become an economic engine – creating investment and business success by attracting people to our hotels, restaurants and shops.

In addition to an economic catalyst, O’Fallon’s Parks and Recreation system also provides a much needed service to the residents of O’Fallon. O’Fallon offers recreational programming and available facilities year-round. The list of available programs, classes and facilities for rent is so comprehensive, it could take up this entire column. So, I invite you go visit the Parks and Recreation website at http://ofallonparksandrec.com/ to view what is available. This website is a “one-stop shop” where you can view available programs and facilities and sign up for any that catch your attention. There are programs for everyone, from the very young to our senior citizens.

O’Fallon is lucky to have high quality facilities that our residents can use. We owe this primarily to the very good job performed by our Parks and Recreation Department, with assistance from the O’Fallon Garden Club, O’Fallon Rotary, other volunteers and support from other city departments.

Recently, the Metro East Parks and Recreation District published its 2018 report that rated the areas’ best parks, sidewalks, trails and park paths. In their ratings, O’Fallon performed very well. O’Fallon was listed in the Top 10 for: number of parks, park acreage, miles of sidewalks, miles of bike trails and miles of park paths.

We were very happy to see that O’Fallon ranked No. 1 in Madison and St. Clair counties in both miles of sidewalks and miles of park paths.

Many would be satisfied with stopping there. But, the city of O’Fallon does not stand still. We continue to add new programming and amenities. And soon, we will be adding a new event space in downtown O’Fallon – O’Fallon Station, opening this fall.

As residents of O’Fallon, you should always be able to reach out to your elected officials and ask questions about what is happening in O’Fallon. Having open communications is important to me and something I care very deeply about. Thank you for reading, and please remember, my door is always open.

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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www.sadlersports.com/soda

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Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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BEACON Athletics Weekly Updates / And Deals ! (Oct.)

Enjoy the World Series!


Beacon’s SweetSpot Tamp is proudly on the field at both Fenway Park and Dodger Stadium for the World Series… go to a championship level and get yours today!

When you compare batting cages, you should know…

It takes ‘Good Bones’.

Beacon doesn’t just say “heavy-duty”.
Unlike indoor batting cages, outdoor cages are susceptible to forces that can threaten the structural integrity of the entire system. Depending on where your facility is located geographically, your batting cages may be threatened by wind, snow and/or freezing rain. A properly designed and engineered support structure will help to ensure that your batting cage frame has a long and productive life.

A good cage starts with “good bones”. When it comes to the support structure, you get what you pay for. Low cost cages are often constructed using thin-wall steel or aluminum tubing. While these cages easily please your budget, they may not perform for you in times of weather-inflicted stress. Beacon has seen numerous cases over the years of competitors’ cages or DIY projects that were constructed using materials too lightweight for the environmental forces they would inevitably need to endure… Continue reading about the importance of strong pipes for your batting cage and checkout a pipe comparison from Paul Zwaska on Ballfields.com.

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Premium Batting Cage Accessory Package
Reg. $669 — NOW ONLY $599  SAVE $70!


This package already saves you $100 when compared to buying these accessories individually. But now you can save an additional $70 — for a total savings of $170 for a limited time! These are great way to get the most out of your batting cage. This batting cage accessory package includes: green 6′ x 12′ Hitting Mat without Home Plate, Pitcher’s L Screen, and green 7.5′ x 7.5′ Vinyl Net Protector with strike zone. Standard package also available.

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By Groundskeepers, For Groundskeepers.
The time and effort necessary to train new staff each year can become overwhelming, and that’s exactly why we developed Groundskeeper University. GU is the perfect online tool for teaching summer help, volunteers, and new staff. Through videos, photos, audio, and written material your staff will learn the right way with the tried and true practices taught by Paul Zwaska.

Enjoy this by-groundskeepers-for-groundskeepers resource and, when you find a lesson or technique you know others will benefit from, be sure to share it with your colleagues on Facebook or Twitter!

Visit Groundskeeper U today!

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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Bridgeport, WV, City Council details plans for Indoor Sports and Rec Complex at Monday meeting !

BRIDGEPORT, WV — The public got its first look at plans for the Bridgeport Indoor Sports and Recreation Complex and heard a presentation on what the facility and its grounds will contain during Monday night’s City Council meeting.

The $50 million, multi-use facility is planned for a site near the city’s current recreation complex on about 60 acres of a 125-acre property in the Charles Pointe development.

The project is on schedule to be open by “late summer or the early fall of 2020,” according to Bridgeport Mayor Andy Lang.

Richard Forren, senior project architect with Fairmont-based architectural firm Omni Associates, started Monday night’s presentation by giving a sense of the size of the building.

“It’s big,” he said. “But if I tell you that it’s 156,000 square feet, it’s still really hard to understand just how big it is. But when we compare it with something we know, it gives you an idea of just how big that facility is going to be.”

Forren showed an artist’s rendering of the complex superimposed on top of an image of Bridgeport High School’s Wayne Jamison Field, which showed the new facility’s gymnasium taking up the entire football field.

“You can see the building extends halfway into the parking lot and takes up part of Johnson Elementary,” Forren said. “So it is a big, big building.”

Kevin Armstrong of BRS Architecture detailed the features and uses of the building’s interior.

“Primarily the facility has three major program elements,” he said. “There is the gymnasium, which is a little more than 300 feet long — about the size of a football field.”

“It has six basketball courts, six volleyball courts and can also be used for pickle ball, mat sports and can also be used for community gathering,” Armstrong said.

“There’s a natatorium as well, which has a completion swimming pool as well as a community swimming pool.

“On the upper floor level of the building, you’ll find the indoor turf level of the building, and then there’s also a fitness center, which will have a group exercise studio.

“And then we have long running track that goes both around the gymnasium and then extends around the fitness area as well,” Armstrong said.

The gymnasium will be able to seat “600 plus,” according to Forren.

“We have fixed seating in there,” he said. “If there is a larger event, there is additional seating. We can bring seating in.”

The building features an “open” design, Armstrong said.

“When you’re in one part of the building, you see what’s going somewhere else; you can hear what’s going on somewhere else,” he said. “That way, it’s really active and inviting.”

The facility will also feature a cafe, Forren said.

Jim Christie, senior project manager for Civil & Environmental Consultants Inc., gave an overview of the exterior of the facility and its grounds.

The building will feature parking areas on either side, with a drop-off area in front of the entrance, Christie said.

“The idea is that we have all the vehicular traffic going in one direction, keeping that safe for pedestrians,” he said. “We also have crosswalks throughout.”

The plans for the grounds surrounding the complex were designed with future expansion in mind, Christie said.

“Your council and previous councils as well have really thought through this,” he said. “We’re not just looking at what we’re going to do currently, but how are we going to take this into the future as it grows.”

There will be four multi-purpose fields, along with concession facilities and restrooms, outside the complex along with additional parking, Christie said.

The facility will be linked to Bridgeport proper by a walking trail.

“We have a trail that will come through the neighborhoods,” he said. “It will start near Ridgeway and bring people through to Charles Pointe safely, and then it will loop the whole facility.”

The plans presented during Monday’s meeting may change as the planning process for the facility continues, Lang said.

“This is a concept of what we would like to see in the future,” he said. “It doesn’t mean it can’t be modified in the future. This isn’t set in stone by this council.”

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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Since 1981”

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BEACON Athletics Weekly Updates / And Deals ! (Oct.)

It’s time for that annual battle…

Of Mice and Men.

Protect Your Nets from Little Pests.
So your season is over and you are shutting down your fields and complex for the year. Don’t forget about your netting! 

Many of you have net backstops, barrier netting to protect critical areas, batting cages, soft toss station netting, football, soccer and lacrosse end zone netting. If possible, retracting the netting for the off-season removes the stress from the poles and prevents inclement weather from damaging your nets. But just as dangerous in the late fall and winter is the possibility while in storage that mice and rabbits using pieces of your net for building their winter nests. Yes, it is time for that annual battle of mice and man.

There are several ways to help protect your nets from rodents during the offseason… Continue reading these off-season tips from Paul Zwaska on Ballfields.com.

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TUFFframe Modular Outdoor Batting Cage
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TUFFframe™ Batting Cages stand up to it all. Our most comprehensive batting cage, the modular cage offers endless multiple configurations. Ground sleeves simply pole installation giving you the option to remove the entire cage or move it to a new location. Features heavy-duty poles, prefabricated cables, and premium UV-treated nets to bring you the best hitting tunnels. Custom team branding options with our personalized tensioning cuffs.

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Beacon’s TUFFframe™ Modular batting cage is extremely durable and unique. We have received many compliments from other teams because of the design and setup of our double-wide batting cages. We highly recommend working with Beacon to improve your complex.”

— Dick Flynn, Director of Public Works, City of Waupun, Waupun, WI

By Groundskeepers, For Groundskeepers.
The time and effort necessary to train new staff each year can become overwhelming, and that’s exactly why we developed Groundskeeper University. GU is the perfect online tool for teaching summer help, volunteers, and new staff. Through videos, photos, audio, and written material your staff will learn the right way with the tried and true practices taught by Paul Zwaska.

Enjoy this by-groundskeepers-for-groundskeepers resource and, when you find a lesson or technique you know others will benefit from, be sure to share it with your colleagues on Facebook or Twitter!

Visit Groundskeeper U today!

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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Remade Capital One Arena features self-service food and beer stands — and functioning cupholders !

The $40 million renovation of Capital One Arena began the day of the Capitals’ Stanley Cup parade in June and was completed just in time for the team’s banner-raising ceremony at its home opener last week. On Tuesday, Monumental Sports & Entertainment formally unveiled what’s new at the Chinatown venue, which will be old enough to drink come December.

“The goal of all the renovations was to improve the guest experience,” David Touhey, president of venues for MSE, said during a media tour. “So, visually from the time you walk in the door, it’s a new look on the concourse. The floors are new, the ceilings are new, the seats are new, the sound system is new.”

Some of the various food options on the 100- and 400-levels are new, too. David Chang’s Fuku, featuring a spicy fried chicken sandwich and jalapeno fries, debuts by Section 117. (Chick-fil-A fans will be happy to know the fast food chain will continue to sell its sandwiches by Sections 119 and 423.) Lucky Buns, a burger concept by local chef Alex McCoy, will have a permanent stand by Section 120. Launch Test Kitchen, located near Section 105, will feature a rotating selection of chefs and restaurateurs, beginning with Maria Menounos’s Greek Kitchen, with a menu including falafel waffle chicken, gyros and spicy feta fries. The new Street Tacos 202 stand near Section 107 will offer made-to-order pulled pork, carne asada and vegetarian tacos. An updated map of the food and beverage options at Capital One Arena is available here.


Vegetarian tacos, a burger with gouda and bacon jam, and a falafel waffle are among the food items available at Capital One Arena this season. The Fuku fried chicken sandwich (not pictured) was the best thing I sampled. (Scott Allen/The Washington Post)

When considering new concession concepts for the renovated space, Liz Noe, Aramark’s resident district manager for Capital One Arena, said there was an emphasis on improving speed of service. To that end, new cooking equipment and registers were installed, and the number of points of sale were nearly doubled throughout the arena.

Multiple stands now offer self-ordering kiosks and self-service options. Over the Top near Section 106 allows fans to customize their own signature item by adding various toppings to nachos, pretzels, hot dogs, fries, wings or tater tots. The Over the Top stand on the upper level by Section 417 features a “Pour Your Own Beer” station with 21 taps and 17 Anheuser-Busch InBev varieties, which will be rotated throughout the season.


The “Pour Your Own Beer” stand at Capital One Arena. (Scott Allen/The Washington Post)

“We’ll figure out very quickly what are big hits and what aren’t,” said Noe, who added that the issues that led to foamy pours at the stand during the Capitals’ home opener have been addressed. “We have an entire analytics team to make sure we have the right choices out for fans.”

Around the corner from the “Pour Your Own Beer” wall is the new Federal Favorites Express stand by Section 427. Here, fans can grab arena staples like pizza, nachos, hot dogs, beer and soda, place their items on one of two state-of-the-art check out scanners and pay. Noe said the stand did double the sales at the Capitals’ home opener than a similar stand did at a typical home game last season.


The new grab-and-go concession stand at Capital One Arena. (Scott Allen/The Washington Post)

The concourses are sleeker and feature 300 new digital signs, menu boards, LED walls and monitors, as well as four new displays paying tribute to the arena’s teams and history. A storage room along the 100-level concourse was turned into a Stella Artois-branded bar with high-top tables. The PwC Club on the club level was redesigned and now features an additional third row of seating. Anyone with a ticket anywhere in the arena can enjoy the various concessions in the PwC Club, including former “Iron Chef” champion Cat Cora’s Mediterranean concept, Olilo.

The new row of seats in the PwC Club were the only ones added during the renovation. While all of the old purple seats in the seating bowl were replaced with sleeker black models featuring the Capital One logo and, at last, functioning cupholders. Touhey said the new seats are the same size as the old ones; after opening night, multiple fans reported the new seats seemed narrower.

The Wizards’ former practice court, which was no longer needed with the recent opening of the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Southeast D.C., has been transformed into the MGM National Harbor VIP Lounge. Fans with courtside seats to Wizards games and on-the-glass seats for Capitals games will have access to the redesigned space, which features full-service food stations, a full bar and wait service, before the game, during halftime and between periods.


The new MGM National Harbor VIP Lounge at Capital One Arena. (Scott Allen/The Washington Post)

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

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www.sportsplexoperators.com

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A new York County sports park is closer than ever. Here’s your invitation !

Keck and Wood drawing from 2013 shows consideration for the rock on site and adjusting for grading plans.

Not quite two years after Lake Wylie voters approved funding for it, dirt will turn on the long-awaited sports complex on Crowders Creek in northern York County.

“The groundbreaking is just the beginning,” said Ron Domurat, Lake Wylie recreation tax board member.

The park will be 50 acres of baseball and multipurpose fields, open space and walking trails. There will be a picnic shelter, concession stand, basketball and tennis courts. It will have a playground area.

A public drop-in with updates on the park is Oct. 9. Drawings and other information from York County will be presented at a 6:30-8:30 p.m. event at Bethel Volunteer Fire Department station one at 5620 Oakridge Road. York County Councilwoman Allison Love will be there, as will county staff, recreation tax board members and representatives from design group Woolpert Engineering and contractor J.D. Goodrum.

At 10 a.m. Oct. 12, a groundbreaking ceremony will be held at the park site at 1101 Field Day Lane within the Paddlers Cove neighborhood.

Before Domurat joined the recreation tax board, he and other community members with Lake Wylie Athletic Association led a public campaign to approve a voter referendum for the special tax district. The plan was to build a sports park where local teams can play and visiting teams can come in for tournaments, bringing money to spend at local restaurants and businesses.

“It’s been a while,” Domurat said. “Its been a long time coming. This is the first part.”

Looking to put a park on county-owned property along Crowders Creek, community members worked for a decade toward the now $9.45 million plan. The county pledged $2.45 million from the hospitality tax fund, which comes from a charge on prepared food and drink in unincorporated areas like Lake Wylie. Lake Wylie residents needed to fund the rest of the construction cost, hence the November 2016 special tax district vote.

“We wouldn’t be here if the county hadn’t stepped in,” Domurat said.

York County doesn’t have a parks and recreation program. It does run Ebenezer Park on the lake in Rock Hill. Historically, the county has distributed money to municipal parks and recreation departments.

As of spring, the Lake Wylie recreation tax had collected about $3.6 million. Only $120,000 had been spent, all on engineering and other pre-construction work for the park. In March, the county tabbed J.D. Goodrum and Woolpert Engineering for the project.

Domurat said architects gave four options, and park plans are about 75 percent complete.

“The ground plan is complete,” he said. “All of the topographical plans are complete. All the physical features are complete. We’re trying to figure out the use of the buildings, what they’ll look like, how big they’ll be.”

The park should have exciting features, he said, like the area between the press box, ballfields, community building and soccer fields which could serve as an open plaza.

“We can have musical events there,” Domurat said. “We can have food truck Fridays there. It will be a big meeting area during tournaments. It would be somewhere we could have a craft fair.”

On Friday morning, York County Office of Emergency Management posted information Palmetto Rock Services has a month-long blasting permit for grading and trenching work of Paddlers Cove Drive. Four days prior, York County Council approved a construction contract change fine-tuning work J.D. Goodrum will perform. Council also voted to create a position of park superintendent. As of Friday afternoon, it hadn’t been posted for applicants.

“We’re trying to make it serve all our needs,” Domurat said.

Construction could take about a year, with park fields in use in spring 2020.

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Proposed sports park brings many potential benefits to community !

Delano, CA. Supervisor David Couch came before the Delano City Council on Sept. 17 and proposed a plan to work with the city of Delano to create a future Delano Sports Park.

Couch, who has been representing Delano and other north Kern communities for only about four months, included possibly offering up a parcel of land adjacent to the city’s soccer park complex, at Woollomes Avenue and Dover Street, to start the new park that could include baseball and softball fields where residents and groups, such as Delano Little League, could play games. The plan could also include improved parking for the area and lights for the new fields, as well as the current soccer fields.

“We haven’t gotten to the point of what exactly would be included,” Couch said. “We just found out the county has land near the city’s soccer fields, so we can expand what’s there with baseball, softball fields and even possibly an aquatic facility.”

Couch and Delano City Council member Joe Aguirre hatched the plan after being approached by Delano Little League representatives who were complaining about the condition of the current fields at Memorial Park. Quite a bit of work was done on the county portion of the fields.

“We were approached by Little League representatives about the poor conditions there,” Couch said. “So we started working on that. Then they told us they wanted to possibly have tournaments there, but they didn’t have the right lights. Then they mentioned the possibility of expanding in the area near the city’s soccer fields.”

To fund a future sports park, Couch suggested the city of Delano create an economic opportunity area, similar to plans Kern County has created in places like Lost Hills and Arvin.

Couch’s proposal would explore the potential development of a sports complex, combining the current soccer fields with a new Little League baseball facility, an aquatic center and other concepts. Couch said the county already owns additional land adjacent to the shopping center and soccer fields that could be developed for additional recreational facilities for the city of Delano.

Funding could come from both city and county coffers. The city could generate money by establishing a Delano, Sports, Tourism and Re-investment Zone. Other funding sources could include Proposition 68 grant funds, as well as possible city and county community development block grants.

At the end of his presentation, Couch asked Mayor Pro-Tem Ruben Hill to direct city staff to work with county staff and community groups to explore the feasibility of a sports park and/or aquatic center. Both sides would also explore funding mechanisms separately, and even jointly, when feasible.

Couch said an EOA could generate millions of dollars to be used specifically for recreational uses.

“Like many cities, Delano’s biggest money generator is sales tax,” Couch said. “Tournaments could be held at these fields, all year round, and the people who come to these games with their kids will spend money to eat and go to the movies and, for out-of-town visitors, will spend the night at various hotels.”

“That’s a lot of money being spent,” Couch said. “And then these people will go home.”

After Couch’s sports park presentation to the Delano City Council, Aguirre encouraged staff to review the plan.

“We can capture taxes from the new development,” Aguirre said, “and put some money aside to pay for recreational facilities.”

Aguirre pointed to future baseball and softball fields, lighting of current soccer fields and better parking.

“In five to 10 years, we can invest back into the community with this project and do it without hurting ourselves financially.” Aguirre said. “The community would certainly benefit. I know the kids would!”

“I would ask staff to investigate this proposal and get back to the council,” he said.

Couch’s proposal could define a boundary for the Delano region wherein the incremental property and sales tax growth generated from properties within the boundary is dedicated to reinvestment into the area to provide funding for the construction and ongoing care and maintenance of sports park facilities.

Adding a Little League facility, an aquatic facility or other sports facilities near a major Delano commercial area and close to a major north/south freeway would generate synergies that benefit all who participate in activities in this area.

Also, such a sports complex will add to the vibrancy and economic activity within this area. Players, families and fans would use the nearby shopping, restaurant and recreational facilities.

With such a facility so close to the freeway and in a central location in California, Little League and community leaders can tout their location, hotel rooms nearby and the area’s amenities to draw tournaments and other events to Delano.

This would positively impact sales tax revenue and transient occupancy taxes.

Meanwhile, the county has made major investments to Memorial Park, with more planned. The city of Delano is also considering adding an additional field at Memorial Park.

So far, the requests the county have completed include:

• Sprinkler work

• Scrape and level fields from rodent holes. Replace, replant grass. Using seed where fill is needed (ongoing).

• Dedicated existing restroom for Little League

• Repair stairs

• Backflow device

• Backstops repaired

• Dugout gates, roof, other repairs.

• Graffiti abated

Besides the city and county, local school districts could use the proposed new sports park facilities, especially a competition-size swimming pool.

Former Delano City Council member and current Delano Joint Union High School District board member Art Armendariz said having a pool would help all three high schools in the future.

School districts got out of the “pool-building business” because it’s so expensive, he said.

Armendariz said the key to the joint proposal’s success is the city and county working together, which hasn’t always happened in the past.

“We have David (Couch) as a new supervisor to our area and he comes in with his eyes wide-open,” Armendariz said, “looking to see where we can work together like other cities and communities have been doing across the county.

“He did just that, proposing to work with us, and is willing to help. Coming to join us, is a righteous thing to do. It’s all part of the collaborative effort.”

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