The good news is the Brownstown Park Board received a Spring Developmental Grant from the Jackson County Visitor Center.
The only downfall is it wasn’t for the full amount. The board applied for $20,000 but received $12,200.
That means some adjustments will have to be made with the softball field reconfiguration project at Brownstown Park.
“While that’s great, we’re really happy to get any money at all, that puts us in an interesting situation about what parts of the project to try to accomplish first,” board President Brian Wheeler said during a recent meeting at the park’s indoor shelter house.
Wheeler said he reached out to the companies that submitted bids for the fencing to see if that work could be broken into sections, hoping to get as much of it done within the funding available.
He also reached out to the excavation companies to add items like brick dust to get the full scope of the dirt work. Wheeler said brick dust can cost nearly $2,500 per load.
“That way, if come fall, we could have a completely clean slate, we’re ready for the fencing company to jump right in, assuming we get another round of money from the visitor center and the town match will be ready, to roll right into the fencing,” he said.
With the grant funding and the town’s match, Wheeler said the board will have $24,400 to put toward the project. The total cost is expected to be between $42,000 and $44,000, he said.
“We’re getting there,” he said of getting the needed funding for the project.
The first phase of the project is to reconfigure the softball diamond and replace the fencing around it. The second phase will 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 at the park.
The first tournament on the softball diamond is set for Sunday. That day also is when Stage 4 of the reopening of the state’s economy during the COVID-19 pandemic starts, allowing recreational sports leagues and sporting competitions to resume at 50% capacity.
Wheeler said organized practices on the park ball fields could have started May 22, but the board chose to push that back to Sunday. A parent and a child have been allowed to practice, but teams can’t gather until Sunday.
Now that the fourth stage is approaching, Wheeler said he has received calls from people wanting to reserve the diamond for organized practices.
“People are going to continue to ask obviously because people just can’t get on a lot of fields, especially if they are on school property, which don’t open up until July 1,” he said.
Most of the inquiries have been from travel team coaches with players having connections to Brownstown, he said.
“If we don’t start doing the dirt work and other things until a little bit later, we might be able to help relieve some pressure for these teams not having a field space to use because the school is shut down,” Wheeler said.
He asked the board about establishing rental fees for practices and daylong or weekend tournaments.
The board agreed the fees would be beneficial because park employees have to maintain the field, empty the trash and clean the restrooms.
Wheeler made a motion to set the practice fee at $20 per hour excluding Brownstown Baseball Association and Brownstown Girls Softball League teams. That unanimously passed.
Wheeler said the baseball league plans to start practices Monday, while the softball league moved its season to August.
Starting today, practice slots from 4 to 9 p.m. may be reserved.
For the tournament fee, board Vice President Paula Workman made a motion to set it at $100 per day. That unanimously passed, too.
Wheeler said it’s possible for the board to partner with the BBA and school corporation for larger tournaments that want access to several diamonds. If that happens, four diamonds would be available to use — three at the park and one at the high school. The school’s field, though, won’t reopen until July 1.
Workman also suggested having a legal statement prepared for the reservation forms so the board isn’t liable once practices and tournaments start. That would include information about people practicing social distancing and following the capacity restrictions set by the state.
Sharon Koch, a Brownstown Town Council member who serves as a liaison to the park board, said she would have town attorney Travis Thompson assist with the legal statement.
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The softball diamond at Brownstown Park reopens Sunday.
The practice fee is $20 per hour excluding Brownstown Baseball Association and Brownstown Girls Softball League teams. Practice slots from 4 to 9 p.m. may be reserved.
The tournament fee is $100 per day.
To reserve the field, call Brownstown Town Hall at 812-358-5500.