This aerial photo depicts the installation of the turf and the addition of three ball fields in the second pod at the Union County Joint Recreation District. (Photo submitted)
The Union County Joint Recreation District has found itself with a bit of a problem. They are out of room, thanks to the City of Marysville.
The city needed to move some ball fields out of Mill Creek Park that have been plagued by constant flooding, causing perpetual repairs.
According to UCJRD chairman Dave Raymond, the City approached the joint recreation district about moving the fields to the UCJRD property.
The two entities came to an agreement of nearly $800,000 to move three ball fields to the property and provide funds to turf two existing fields.
Raymond said that being out of space is a good problem to have for the district.
“I have been on the board since 2004 and this is where we wanted to be,” he said. “The need for the city to move some fields accelerated our plans for this facility and we are now just about done developing it.”
The three new ball fields that were built earlier this year brings the total to eight at the complex. Raymond hopes with a little luck they may be playable this coming softball and baseball season.
Even if they are not, Raymond said, the city isn’t getting off the ball fields at Mill Creek Park just yet.
“In the event that the fields can’t be played on, the city will use Mill Creek Park as a backup before they decide to turn it into something else,” he said.
Raymond said that since the city saw a need for athletics in the community, it chipped in to help with the cost.
As such, they will get some priority in scheduling the fields.
However, the complex is also home to several other baseball and softball affiliates in Union County such as the Mitts, The Raptors, Union County Freedom and Heart of Ohio that will get priority for large weekend tournaments.
“We have given the city priority scheduling on weekdays, but are holding back on giving them priority on weekends,” said Raymond. “What you see now is the ideal place to hold a tournament and tournaments are what benefits this complex and the community.”
Along with the increase on usage of the facility, Raymond and the district board wanted to offer the opportunity to play in all types of weather.
The addition of turf was implemented on fields that already have lighting.
Raymond said the turf was just another draw for organizations to come and play their large tournaments at UCJRD.
“The drainage does well, unless the nearby creek fills,” he said. “Then water just sits on the fields and it looks like a wetland out there.
“We put the turf in so we don’t have rainouts,” he said. “The turf was installed on the fields that are lighted, so now we have 24/7 capability to play out here no matter the weather.”
Although the focus of the complex has been on baseball and softball, several other sports call UCJRD home.
The complex currently houses soccer, cricket, lacrosse and rugby along with baseball and softball.
That has led to the limit on green space, but Raymond said there are still things that can be done to improve what is already present.
“The (soccer) fields are getting pretty worn out,” he said. “We need to grow grass and we can’t grow grass because they use it in the spring and fall.”
The plan is to move fields to any remaining open space and repair the fields piece by piece.
With space pretty much not available at the complex, the real question Raymond and the board have been asking is …what is next?
“We are at the stage of asking what is next and with the commitment from the city they really accelerated us having to ask that question,” said Raymond. “We have been discussing with the county commissioners in regard as to what is next for recreation in Union County.”
For now, Raymond and the board are working on attracting more attention to the UCJRD with a focus on serving Union County above others.
“We want to advertise to teams from all over, but our first priority is to people from Union County,” he said.
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