Herald JournalHoward Lake-Waverly Herald, Sept. 9, 2002

Green for Memorial Park ballfield is up in the air

By Lynda Jensen

The condition of the ballpark at Memorial Park was again a subject of conversation at the Howard Lake City Council during its meeting Tuesday.

Record summer flooding decimated the grass at the field. Since then, volunteers have been struggling to get the field ready for grass seed, Council Member Shelly Reddemann said.

Setback after setback, including more rain from a record-setting rainfall season, has prevented the seed from being sown, he said.

If the field is not ready in the spring, it will directly affect the season and revenue for the Orphans, Mickey Mantle teams and travelling teams in the spring, City Council Member Shelly Reddemann said.

"They can't afford the loss of income next spring," Reddemann said.

There are about 70 games played on the ballfield every year, Reddemann said. "There's a lot of usage there."

Once fans are lost, it is hard to attract them back, Danford noted.

The council weighed its options, reluctantly noting the price tag for buying sod was about $29,000 according to a bid received for sod work.

However, it was noted that the ballfield was an important asset to the community and well used.

"That park belongs to the city ­ it means a lot to the city," Council Member Tom Kutz said.

Smith agreed, but pointed out that $29,000 was a lot of money, and the council should consider its options carefully before spending this kind of cash.

Sodding may not work because of the cracks that are left between each piece of freshly laid sod, Smith said after the meeting.

In addition, sodding does not qualify for FEMA funding. FEMA granted about $41,000 to the city for replacement costs of the field.

Hydro seeding, which is a form of spraying grass seed over a large area, is covered under FEMA funding granted to the city. The cost of black dirt is also covered under FEMA.

Seeds for hydro seeding have already been donated to the park, although this does not include application, Smith said.

However, there appeared to be a bit of doubt that this would work, since the city engineer expressed misgivings about whether it would work as soon as hoped for the spring season, Smith said.

Either way, it will be hard to immediately replace a ballfield that was as nice and established as the one ruined by flooding, Smith said.

Smith noted that the school might be willing to pay for the fencing, since a permanent fence is much cheaper than a temporary fence, and the temporary fence is only used to accommodate school football.

He also noted that the school would need a field for the next four years at least, regardless of its site plans.

The city is charging $1,000 rent per year for use of the ballfield.

The council approved Bobcat rental of $750 per week to do the ballpark work.

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