Brownstown Park Board applying for grant to reconfigure softball field



The first phase of a project at Brownstown Park would involve reconfiguring the softball diamond and replacing the fencing around it.

The Brownstown Park Board hopes to receive a $20,000 grant from the Jackson County Visitor Center to make it happen.

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If it does, the town is going to provide a $15,000 match and the park board would put in $5,000, park board President Brian Wheeler said during a recent meeting conducted via Zoom.

The visitor center recently announced its board of directors has extended the due date for the Spring Developmental Grant until May 10. The grant normally is due March 31, but because of organizations and other entities being affected by COVID-19, the board agreed to extend the date to give those interested an opportunity to apply.

Wheeler said his goal is to turn everything in before May 1. He recently received three letters of support, and he also has to include a cover letter and fill out the online grant form.

He also is still receiving bids for work on the project, including from local fencing companies.

While talking to one of the companies, Wheeler said he learned the new fencing that was installed around the volleyball court and pool was residential grade. The one around the softball diamond will need to be commercial grade because it lasts longer, he said.

Also, he said residential grade would bend at the bottom and wouldn’t withstand hits from baseballs.

“At the pool and volleyball court, it’s probably OK for now, but that won’t work on a baseball diamond,” he said.

The second phase of the project would involve replacing the lights and poles around the diamond, adding security lights in the parking lot and installing a new playground feature or pool feature.

Wheeler said he talked to Brian Covert with Jackson County REMC about removing the light poles. Covert told him the ideal situation would be to do that during a summer month when the ground is dry.

A majority of the poles are aged and in bad shape, Wheeler said.

“He also mentioned that there’s a good chance we won’t be able to salvage the fixtures that are on the poles,” Wheeler said. “Those fixtures, I cannot find anymore. Those are the same ones the high school uses, the same ones the BBA (Brownstown Baseball Association) has on their poles. They don’t make those anymore. You can find the bulbs. You just can’t find the fixtures.”

Wheeler said he is going to reach out to Chip Orben with Duke Energy about a grant to upgrade the lighting.

Park board member Kevin Hanner said Duke Energy has helped with projects at the park in the past, so he’s hopeful the company will want to assist again.

“If we need extra help, they may do something for us,” Hanner said.

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