City seeking grant to install turf ball fields at Joint Rec park

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Pictured are plans for a project the city hopes to begin next year that includes three new baseball fields and two new turf infields at the Union County Joint Recreation district on County Home Road. Officials hope to get a state grant to offset the cost.
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The City of Marysville hopes to get a grant to help fund three new baseball fields and new turf at the Joint Recreation District.
At Monday’s council work session, officials told council members the city plans to apply for a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for the project.
The Joint Recreation District is a sports complex on County Home Road established from a partnership between Union County, the City of Marysville and Paris Township.
Public Service Director Mike Andrako said the city typically looks for alternative forms of funding for these types of projects.
“I think this would be a good grant project, just because it’s multi-jurisdictional,” Andrako said.
According to Andrako, his department is hoping to budget about $750,000 for the project next year, with a projected $150,000 more coming from the grant if it’s approved.
The amount the city has budgeted would likely go down as it gets Union County and Paris Township to contribute. City Manager Terry Emery said the city has discussed the project with Union County and Paris Township.
“We’re still in those discussions about how they could participate,” Emery said.
Emery said he and Parks Superintendent Eric Hinkle have already had two meetings with the Joint Recreation board.
“They’re very, very supportive of what we’ve approached and presented to them,” Emery said.
According to Andrako, the city’s desire for more ball fields on County Home Road stems from problems with the fields at Schwartzkopf Park.
“I don’t have to remind you that the sports fields there are routinely getting flooded,” he said. “Baseball fields are not good to have in the flood plane.”
Andrako said every time those fields have flooded, the city has had to replace the infields, and occasionally the fencing around the field.
The city would get rid of the fields at Schwartzkopf, then the three new fields would go in at the Joint Recreation District toward the northern end between the rugby field and the existing baseball fields.
Combined with the fields already under construction, those three new diamonds will form a circle mirroring the four already there. The new fields could be used by athletes of all ages, Andrako said.
He said a lack of adult fields was a sticking point in the city’s parks and recreation master plan, and this project would help rectify that.
“We don’t have a whole lot of adult fields that we could use,” Andrako said. “So these would be expandable from youth all the way up to adults.”
Also in the budget is money to put synthetic turf at the two most southern existing fields.
Andrako said in his research for the project, he found cities are increasingly using synthetic turf, “Because you can use it year-round.”
“Columbus likes this so much, they’re converting all their Berliner fields to this synthetic turf,” Andrako said.
He said Columbus is reportedly getting “13 or 14 years” out of their turf infields before needing to be replaced.
Andrako is aiming to have the project started next year to be finished in 2020.
Councilperson Nevin Taylor asked if the city could focus on building the field directly to the west of the one under construction, and have them playable by next year.
Andrako said it’s better to wait because the grass in the outfield needs a year to establish itself. He said when players use a field before its grass is done growing, it’s much harder to establish after that.
“You have to have that thick stand of grass,” Andrako said.
Taylor also asked why the city isn’t putting lights at the new fields. Andrako replied that lights are simply expensive.
“We’re looking at $200,000 or $300,000 per field,” Andrako said.
Emery said the city is focusing on “getting this first step accomplished,” and try to keep within a reasonable budget. He said over time, the city will look for other funding sources to add lights and synthetic turf to the other fields.
Legislation to allow the city to apply for the funding will appear at the next regular city council meeting Oct. 8.



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