The first of four new baseball diamonds in Memorial Park could be built as early as next year.
“Next year, people could see some exciting changes,” Jennifer Kidder, director of Archbold Parks and Recreation, said in an interview yesterday, Tuesday.
The current plan is to complete the design of the fourdiamond complex over the winter, construct the underground infrastructure in the spring and summer; then, in late summer, start on the construction of the first diamond on land west of the parking lot that sits west of the softball fields.
During the Wednesday, Sept. 20 meeting of Archbold Park Board, Kidder said estimates for the cost of the four-diamond complex are $1.9 million with a 284-space parking lot, and $1.2 without.
“We are not borrowing money” to create the new ball diamonds, Kidder said in the Tuesday interview.
“We’re going to do a little at a time as money is available. We’re also looking into some creative sources of money. We’re looking into grants, or people who might want to get actively involved to support the project.”
Park Board has been paying off the cost of the Woodland Park, constructed in the early 2000s.
She said Park Board still owes $1.4 million on Woodland Park.
A parking lot with room for 284 cars sounds like a lot of parking.
“It is a lot of spaces,” she said. “Go out to (Memorial) Park on a busy night, which is every night of the week in the summer, and you’ll see we don’t have enough parking.
“People utilize the school parking lots and people park illegally.”
Doubling the number of baseball diamonds without expanding parking would create a bad situation.
A four-diamond expansion in Memorial Park has been talked about for more than a decade.
Several baseball and softball programs have to share the four available diamonds in Memorial Park.
“We’re so crowded five nights a week. Scheduling is a nightmare,” she said.
Additional diamonds will relieve the scheduling problem and open other opportunities.
“We could host tournaments, and bring in money that way,” she said.
“But it wouldn’t be just for us. People would be visiting our restaurants, buying gas, buying drinks.”
Kidder said the Park Board has been setting aside money for the diamond project.
“This year, we set aside $250,000,” she said.
Bob Seaman, village engineer, said the engineering department has developed a conceptual design of the proposed baseball complex.
Once Park Board approves a final version of that design, then work can begin on actual construction plans.
He said the engineering department staff met with Kidder Tuesday morning. They went over the proposed layout in the conception, making some changes.
“We pushed the outfield of one diamond back from 270 feet to 300 feet for baseball, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t play softball or Little League (baseball) on it,” Kidder said.