Baseball group hopes to make field improvements
The DeSoto Park Commission has agreed to attempt to find room in its budget to forgive user fees owed by the DeSoto Youth Baseball Association so that the organization can fund $10,000 in improvements at the Miller Park ball fields.
The offer by Park Commissioner Mike Nolan came after the baseball association's commissioner, Don Clark, addressed the city council last Thursday.
As he had in January, Clark asked the city council to forgive the user fees the association will owe for the use of city ballparks during the coming summer. In return, the association would use the $4,800 earmarked for user fees to make needed improvements at Miller Park ball fields.
In addition, Clark said the association would contribute another $5,000 to the improvements.
Many of the improvements would add lighting or fencing needed to make the ballparks safer, he said.
The youth organization plays in a competitive environment with other organizations that use Johnson County and Eudora facilities, Clark said. The improvements are needed if the organization is to continue to attract youngster to its teams, he said.
"We're sitting at about 100 kids less than we had last year," he said. "The number one reason I'm hearing is the condition of the facilities down there (at Miller Park). That's why we're up here with such a concern. I'm trying to stop the bleeding."
Councilman Brad Seaman said that was disappointing considering the financial commitment the city has made in the ball fields the last few years.
Records show the city spent nearly $26,000 on ball fields last year for new equipment, improvements and wages and benefits for maintenance personnel.
Clark acknowledged the city's effort, but added the improvements the association hoped to fund would make the Miller Park ball fields competitive with any in the area.
Council members were reluctant to approve Clark's proposal because it did not receive the support of the park commission.
"We put the park board in place to take items like this off our agenda," Seaman said.
When council members indicated they had no problem with the park commission adjusting its budget to accommodate Clark's proposal, Nolan said the commission would attempt to do so.
Seaman expressed concern that other teams are using DeSoto ballparks for practice without paying user fees. Newly hired City Park and Recreation Director Jay Garvin said he would monitor the activity and work out a fee schedule for such use.
In other business, the council:
Approved a request from Garvin that the city purchase 1,111 tons of lime to spread on the ball fields. The city will purchase the lime from Hunt-Midwest Mining Inc. for $5,000.
Approved increasing the excise tax on subdivided land from 13 cents a square foot to 14 cents a square foot.
The city will study the tax, which funds improvements to city streets, sidewalks and street lighting, and may adjust it again in August.