Archive for Thursday, April 20, 2006

City bounces ball field ideas off board

April 20, 2006

Baseball fever caught on with members of the Eudora City Council and Eudora USD 491 Board of Education.

The discussion at the April 10 meeting had little to do with batting averages or golden gloves and everything to do with field policies.

At the council meeting, city officials discussed options on how to make the ball fields near Eudora West Elementary compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and took an official stance on ball field use.

The board discussed the stance on both issues and came to a consensus to take the ball field by Nottingham Elementary School out of commission.

Under the current agreement, the school district allows the city to use the fields in exchange for maintenance.

The first issue the council discussed came from a presentation by city engineer Brian Kingsley of BG Consultants on how the city can make the West ball fields completely accessible.

"We've completed a conceptual layout and preliminary estimate for ADA access to the ball field," Kingsley said.

Although Kingsley submitted an annotated plan to the Eudora City Council, the entire layout would have to gain approval at the state level before construction could start.

"We thought it would be nice to have a concrete pad approximately 20- by 25-feet," Kingsley said. "You can have picnic tables and a concession stand for people to sit down to eat or drink whatever they were purchasing there."

Kingsley and BG Consultants studied the contours of the area to find the best layout for the plan, which featured improved access to the bleachers.

"Next to the bleachers we envision a 10- by 10-foot concrete plane where you would be able to have a wheelchair ext to the bleachers and also an area where people would be able to walk around and access the bleachers on that concrete sidewalk," Kingsley said.

Kingsley estimated the total cost for the project between $8,500 and $10,000.

The $2,500 hike would go toward additional planning costs.

Kingsley said that area still has a drainage issue that needs to be resolved.

An additional $1,200 could be required in planning to fix those issues, Kingsley said.

"I think the next step is to see what the state engineer would require and then get permission from the school board to see this happen as proposed," Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said.

The council agreed to send the plan to the state engineer and also run it by the school district.

At the school board meeting Thursday, superintendent Marty Kobza brought the issue of ADA compliance before the board.

"Since it's on our property, we have to make sure it falls within those guidelines," Kobza said. "We've had a liability on that whole ball field."

During the discussion, board member Kenny Massey brought up the district's need to eventually come to a plan with its properties ---- the issue at heart to the district was whether or not to chip in.

"Our only real question on the ball field tonight is whether or not to share in the cost. My response is that I echo what (Kobza) said ---- we do not have the funds right now," Massey said.

Board members decided not to commit funds to the project.

After review, Beatty said the city would need to fund a more detailed study of the project and that would be discussed at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Eudora City Hall.

The Eudora City Council also tackled a ball field use policy.

Although both the school district and the city make use of the ball fields, the city has been in charge of maintenance even when third-party tournaments use the fields.

In the ball field use proposal, Beatty suggested the city create a set of compensation guidelines for such tournaments.

"(Kobza) indicated to me that we can't use this as a land use fee, but as a maintenance fee," Beatty said.

The district decided to talk to interested parties to further refine terms for the policy.

When brought up on the board agenda, the issue sparked board members to continued its discussion on the need of creating a long-term plan for the district's property.

"Some of the land that is being used currently could possibly be used for something else," board member Mark Chrislip said. "We've sort of just blocked that off because we think that's the ball field without thinking in terms of that's our land."

Board member Jim Martin said there could be a drawback to hasty action by the board.

"Unfortunately we paint ourselves into a corner and we look like the bad guys when we say we want that back," Martin said.

Although the board's discussion was conceptual and hinted at clarifying the district's long-range goals, the city's plan garnered some support.

"I'm not opposed to the fee," Massey said.

The ball fields near Nottingham have been out of constant use with the city and district, and board members figured it was time for a change.

"The city wants to take the lights and scoreboard out for a future use," Kobza said.

With the hardware leaving, the nature of the field could be changed.

"They've scheduled all their games using the fields at West and that one really isn't part of their rotation," Kobza said.

The area might draw more people than just the parks and recreation crowd, Kobza said.

The prevailing suggestion was to turn the space into a soccer field.

"In talking to staff, what people are recommending would be to go ahead and plant it in grass and not have to maintain it," Kobza said.

Board members reached a consensus to plant grass on the Nottingham field and remove the dugouts and the backstop fence.

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