Repairs at baseball field may cost thousands

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

Repairs are underway on a McDonough baseball field that saw some unexpected damage after a recent storm, sparking criticism from citizens regarding the city’s decision to allow its use for a non-sporting event.

Last week’s City Council meeting includes a number of comments from local residents, including several volunteer leaders from the McDonough Youth Association, about the condition of one of the fields at Alexander Park after torrential rains and what some said was an ill-advised move to locate a Caribbean festival there.

Several large pieces of equipment were on that field and then moved off because of the bad weather, but the moves themselves required large trucks driving onto the field which damaged the surface even more.

One MYA coach estimated that it would take several thousand dollars worth of sod to get that field back to the appropriate condition for play. But money is not the only issue, because the repair work will take a few weeks and comes at the worst possible time for teams preparing for upcoming out-of-state tournaments.

A girls’ softball team from McDonough is about to play a World Series in Alabama and the coach told the council that he would have to find a church or some other organization that could allow the team to use its field to prepare for the event.

Other complaints centered around the likelihood that the city would have to foot the bill for the repair, which means the taxpayers would be on the hook for something that many of them said never should have happened. Citizens addressing the council pointed out different other city-owned facilities that could have hosted the festival, saying that all of the equipment placed on the field should have instead been located on a paved surface so there would have been no weather-related damage. It was pointed out that the teams that use the fields most of the time would never have been allowed there under those rainy conditions.

Others suggested that the festival organizers are also taxpayers and that all of the groups should be tolerant of each other. But none of the speakers who were critical of what happened on the field spoke negatively about the festival; they focused their frustration on the city’s decision to put the fields in jeopardy in the first place.

When all of these discussions were taking place, the repair was actually underway. City manager Keith Dickerson said this week that someone was hired the morning of June 19, several hours before the council meeting, to begin the work.

The field was rolled while it was still wet, Dickerson said, which should make it easier to sod and perhaps require less sod to get the job done. That will happen once the weather is dry, he added.

Estimates on the repair work are in the $3,500-5,500 range. The field should be usable two weeks after the sod is put down, Dickerson said.