Plain City officials discussed the future of Pastime Park at Monday’s council meeting. The Parks Committee has made a recommendation to limit offerings at the park and remove the baseball diamonds and to focus on improving the camping areas and the summer festivals. Officials said the camping area is often crowded and facilities need upgraded.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Mac Cordell)
A much anticipated parks master plan will not be coming from Plain City’s Park Committee, though the group does have some recommendations.
In a presentation at Monday evening’s village council meeting, Nick Kennedy, a councilman and chairman of the parks committee, recommended the village remove the baseball diamonds from Pastime Park and work to acquire new park lands for the village, some of which would be used to construct a sports complex.
Kennedy said Pastime Park already hosts baseball, camping, swimming, volleyball, basketball and summer events like the steam threshers and scooter shows as well as others.
He said the committee struggled to create the master plan with the knowledge there would not be significant funding from the village. He said any plan could involve limiting camping and summer festivals in the park, which serve as a significant funding source for the parks.
“The committee came to the conclusion that it was impossible to provide additional services within the 40 acres of the park without the village divesting itself of the camping and historic shows,” according to the report Kennedy gave council members. “The committee determined that the park has reached its limit with what it is capable of providing.”
He said Pastime Park needs to focus on what it already does well, rather than expanding offerings.
“The more people we talked to, the more we got that they just wanted to keep Pastime Park, Pastime Park,” Kennedy said.
He explained that one of the best ways to do that is to remove the baseball diamonds at the park. He said the camping areas are inadequate and need improved.
“The committee recommends that the village eventually remove the baseball facilities from the park,” according to the report. “The current baseball facilities are not adequate for purposes that they serve. Moreover, removal of the diamonds would allow the village to improve Pastime Park to better provide the above services allowing utilization of the current baseball area for increased parking, camping improvements and a ‘fairgrounds’ area for events.”
Kennedy said he expects there will be a spectrum of reactions to the suggestion. He stressed that baseball fields would not be eliminated until a replacement is provided.
“It is recommended that this removal of the baseball diamonds be concurrent with the acquisition of new park land that will house a new sports area, sufficient to satisfy not only the needs of Plain City’s young baseball players but also one that will satisfy the burgeoning population form other sports that our youth enjoy; soccer, lacrosse, basketball, volleyball, etc.,” according to the report.
Additionally, the parks committee recommended the village acquire additional parks.
“Given the continued and upcoming growth in Plain City, especially on the southern end, the park committee has instead chosen to look at ways to add additional park lands within the village,” according to the report.
Kennedy said the parks can be smaller and should offer a variety of other activities not available at Pastime Park.
“Additional park areas could provide different recreational options, decrease the strain on Pastime and reduce the need and pressure on the village to have Pastime Park be everything to everyone within Plain City,” according to the report. “The largest hurdle to obtaining and maintaining additional park lands is the cost of such.”
Kennedy told council he would, “really like to find a way to dig deep and acquire some more park land.”
Kennedy said the village had been offered a one-acre area for a small park, but while the land was free, village officials feared the annual maintenance would be too expensive. Kennedy said it would cast about $3,100 per year to maintain the area as a park.
“That cost is far outweighed by the ability of the village to provide additional park land and to take the strain off Pastime Park,” Kennedy said.
Resident Asa Shrek told council he agrees the ball fields should be removed to make room for camping and summer festivals.
“I think he is on the right track,” said the resident. “We need more space to do anything.”
Kennedy said the park committee was frustrated for a long time, unable to figure out why they continued to spin their wheels on the master plan.
Kennedy said the more than year-long discussions was, “a long process to cathartically get to – we don’t really have to do much at Pastime Park, we really need to be looking at something else.”
“I understand this is a deviation from what you expected me to provide,” Kennedy said. “It is certainly a deviation from what I expected to be providing.”
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