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City looks at improvements at Idle Hour Park

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By Jimmie Earls

The Springfield City Council discussed several improvement projects at Idle Hour Park at its Tuesday night meeting. Park director Bernard Smalley said several of the light poles on the upper ball fields need to be rewired, while the lower softball field needs to be raised to alleviate a drainage problem. Public works director Glenn Mattingly said expansion of the concession stand needs to be looked at as well.

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Smalley said the city will host the District 5 Little League softball tournament in 2011, and these changes need to be made.

“Next year, we have the girls’ 9-15-year-old district tournament, which is composed of eight counties, from June 24 through July 2,” Smalley told the council. “It will be a busy 10 days. Two weeks ago, I talked to (Springfield city administrator) Laurie (Smith) about our lighting system. On the two main fields up at the top, we have three poles completely out. I had somebody come by and look at it and they think that the wiring on every pole has gone bad.”

Springfield Mayor John Cecconi advised Smalley to get several quotes on having the work done. Smalley added that he has received one quote so far and is expecting more.

Concessions at the park were another part of the council’s discussion, and options for the future were discussed, especially with the coming events at the park. Idle Hour Park’s concessions are currently handled by the Springfield Lion’s Club.

“That’s going to be an excellent time. There are going to be a lot of concessions needed for a couple of weeks there,” said council member Mike Elliott. “The way that we have it set-up right now, if they want to keep it, if they can handle it and make it work good, that’s great. If it doesn’t, we really need to look at something there. There’s going to be a lot of money to be made on concessions over a 10-day period. We need to do it for a convenience factor if nothing else, outside of making some money out of it, too. But if those people come in here, you’ve got to feed them and sell drinks to them, and I don’t know right now if we’re set-up to handle that big of a thing with just the one group that does it. For something this big, we need to either farm it out or bid it out.”

“Glenn and I were out there two or three weeks ago thinking about expanding that building,” added Cecconi.

“It would improve the service and all of that,” said Mattingly. “It would make it a lot more user-friendly, for the customers and whoever is doing the concessions.”

Cecconi asked Mattingly to present plans, a material list and estimated costs to the council for the expansion of the concession stand. The mayor added that it may take three windows to serve all of the expected crowd for the event.

Elliott added, “If you have that many people out there, you’re not going to be able to serve them out of that little place. You’re going to have to put tents up, make eating places out of it and have a state fair type of atmosphere. If we can make some money out of it, or if one of our clubs can, that would be great.”

“The Lions Club usually gives a percentage of their sales to the city and to the park,” Cecconi said.

“In two years, there’s a possibility that we could have the girls’ 14-16-year-old state tournament,” Smalley added.

“Those poles are old, and I know it,” said Cecconi. “It would be great if we could put poles like we have on the new field there. But the old deal is ‘show me the money.’”

“If the poles are good, you’re saving a lot money,” added council member Paul Borders.

Cecconi said he guessed that there would be eight poles that needed to be rewired.

“We’ll see what the bids are when they come in,” he added.

The council then addressed the water problems on the softball field. Smalley said drainage problems cause water to form a small gully across the field during heavy rains. The idea is to bring in dirt to elevate the field.

“I’d say about 10 or 15 tri-axle loads at the most,” said Borders. “I talked to Sandy Simms, and he said he would donate 10 or 12 loads. I talked to the judge (Washington County Judge-Executive John Settles) and he’s going to let us use the grader whenever we get the dirt in there.”