Local ball players will get improved practice fields

The ball field at Sertoma Park — as well as the three fields at South Park — will be renovated by Game Time Athletics for practice use by local ball players.

Local ball players should have improved practice fields by May following this week’s Junction City Commission meeting.

Junction City Parks and Recreation Director Ed Lazear identified Game Time Athletics as the lowest bidder for a project to renovate the ball field at Sertoma Park and the three fields at South Park.

“These fields have been neglected for quite some time,” Lazear said. “We feel we’re at a good point where we can bring them up to at least the level of a practice field, so a lot of our ball teams have a good practice facility to go to.”

Improvements to the fields will increase the availability of practice time for the Junction City Junior Baseball Association and Geary County Girls Softball. These organizations currently have approximately 35 teams seeking practice facilities.

Game Time’s bid was for $22,705, and funds for the project have been budgeted in the 2019 parks maintenance fund. There will be some additional costs related to the project, however.

“The city will supply all the aglime and top soil, so there’s about another $3,700 in additional costs that’s not under this,” Lazear said. “That saves us another $3,000 of trucking, because we can truck it ourself.”

Commissioners approved the contract, and work should be completed by May.

“That would be in time for baseball practice to start,” Lazear said.

In other business, commissioners considered a request for funding from the Open Door Community House. The Open Door did not receive grant funding in 2018, is short on funds and requested $2,500 to cover operating costs until grant funds are available.

“They’re trying to stay afloat as they apply for a grant, but they need some funding,” City Manager Allen Dinkel said.

The Open Door provides an important service for those in need, but money has not been budgeted for the request, and the organization receives funding from Geary County, Dinkel said.

“Even though I think it’s something good for our community, is it opening something the city doesn’t belong in?” Dinkel asked.

Commissioner Tim Brown said Open Door is essential to the community, however.

“All charities are good, but there’s two charities in this town that have been viable components of the city for a long time, and one of them is the Open Door,” Brown said. “The other is the Food Pantry.”

There weren’t any options for assistance for homeless people until Open Door began operating, Brown said.

“This is one thing that is a very important component,” Brown said. “I’m 100 percent in favor of giving them the $2,500.”

A major concern for awarding the money would the possibility of recurring requests, however, Mayor Pat Landes said.

“I worry about recurring asks; this happening each year, and now we’re the bad guy if we don’t give them money,” Landes said.

Brown asked if the city had previously given money to the organization, and Dinkel said it has not happened since he began working for the city.

“The only thing that bothers me is, what’s the alternative if the Open Door isn’t up?” Commissioner Nick Allbritton asked. “Especially this time of year, with the cold and everything like that.”

Commissioners voted to award the Open Door the $2,500.

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