By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Clint Holland knows what the fields at Keizer Little League Park look like in prime condition.
After all, Holland is one of the scores of people who used to work on the fields, which at one time were the heart and soul of the city.
The fields have since fallen into a state of disrepair, with various talk in recent years about how to improve things.
Now Holland has a new plan: working with a couple of guys willing to pay for the complete renovation of one field a year.
Holland, a member of the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, brought up the topic at the Feb. 9 Parks Board meeting. He also toured the facility on Feb. 16 with the guys he referenced – Tony Cuff and Chris Argue – along with Brad Arnsmeier and city parks supervisor Robert Johnson (see related story, pg. A2).
“It’s sad every time you go out there,” Holland said in regards to KLL Park. “It’s really becoming an old facility. These guys are rockers and shakers. They want to work on one field every year. I’m talking dugouts, sod, better dirt, irrigation and mowing.”
Holland said the first field proposed to be worked on is Field 3, the large one at the top of the facility by the water tank.
“They’ll take the old turf off, put in new turf sod, get rid of the old grass and bring in new dirt,” Holland said. “The fields are becoming a hazard to play on. Last year several kids got injured fielding ground balls. They’ll put in new sod and new dugouts.”
Holland noted he’s been talking with Rick Day about helping with new concrete dugouts. As envisioned, there would be new soil, sod and sprinklers.
“To do the whole project is $43,200,” Holland said. “They want $10,000 in grant money for the $43,200 job. We need to work on those fields and get them modern. There are a lot of problems up there.”
The grant money would be from the Parks Board matching grant program, which has about $14,000 left for the rest of the fiscal year ending June 30.
Jim Taylor, the former city councilor who returned to coaching at the facility last year, noted the city was given a list of needs a few years ago, with a price tag of approximately $500,000.
“Every field out there needs something,” Taylor said. “If they do one field every year, then maybe it’ll be two fields a year down the road if people get involved. I don’t see a downside if we can come up with some money. This is the first time I’ve heard someone come in and say they will do something for a minimal cost.”
Scott Klug asked if the matching fund request would become a regular thing.
“Are we looking at $10,000 this year and on?” Klug asked.
Holland said there would be an annual request, but not necessarily the same amount each year.
“It might be less for some of the fields,” Holland said. “Rick Day will help with some stuff. We want to do it the right way. Each year is different. Any year, you can say you don’t want to (financially support) it anymore. But if you see their work, that’s not going to happen. These are the right guys to do it. There will be a lot of ways people can help with this. Knowing Tony, he’ll bring guys from his farm out to help. That guy does a good job.”
Johnson liked the idea, since Keizer Youth Sports Authority (KYSA) formerly leased the field and KLL currently leases the field and is in charge of maintenance.
“The city doesn’t have the money to put into it,” Holland said. “Here we have guys willing to do it.”
Richard Walsh asked if the people working with Holland would be doing the job KYSA and KLL people should be doing.
“Would they be able to contribute?” Walsh asked of KYSA and KLL. “Aren’t you relieving them of what would be their responsibility?”
Holland noted the shorter leases for running KLL Park has had an impact.
“It has come up many times it’s hard to put in a lot of money when the lease is up,” he said.
J.T. Hager liked the idea of people pitching in.
“The men you talked about, that’s fantastic,” Hager said. “The project is fantastic. It would be good to look at the whole situation out there.”
Walsh said the project sounds good, but noted so do others.
“I think it’s a great project, with fantastic volunteers,” Walsh said. “But I know there are other projects brewing. We have to say no to somebody.”
Holland said a formal budget and project application will be submitted in time for the March 8 Parks Board meeting.