Gunnison City Council hears input on ball field improvements, discusses recreation program
By Robert Stevens
GUNNISON—City leaders held a public hearing on paying for structural improvements to ball fields and discussed resuming other recreational activities at a meeting May 6.
The meeting started off with a public hearing to talk about improvements on ball fields in Gunnison and Centerfield that will be made possible through a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).
“This is about creating safety and beatifications and making improvement to something that’s been a part of our community for about 40 years,” Gunnison Mayor Lori Nay said. “We want to make five fields available for play so we can hold tournaments. The fields are a wonderful economic driver for our community.”
Gunnison City was the original sponsor for the fields when they were put in. They were originally funded through a Utah State Parks grant.
“They’ve been a benefit to the community for many years,” Nay said.
The actual improvements that will go into the fields will include: Installation of sidewalk in some areas, a silo for safely storing field materials, electric conduits for future lighting projects, fencing, safety roofing, netting, new infield dirt, and the relocation of light poles to create a better entrance at one of the fields.
“We need to make it more enjoyable for the audience to be there,” Nay said.
The CDBG funding will provide $250,000, and requires a local contribution of $65,000. To reach that match, Gunnison City is pitching in $15,000, the Gunnison Valley Recreation Department is putting in $20,000 and Centerfield City is putting in $10,000. According to Nay, the South Sanpete School District (SSSD) is contributing $20,000. A higher SSSD contribution was mistakenly reported in a previous article on the CDBG grant.
“I just wanted to say thank you very much for everyone who has contributed to this project,” said Centerfield Mayor Tom Sorensen. “Not only the recreation board but Gunnison City and the South Sanpete School District. Centerfield City is more than happy to do their part on this and what a great project to do. Holy cow, over $300k to help improve our rec—that will be awesome! I am looking forward to help making it happen. We are all on board and whatever we can do to help.”
With the close of the public hearing on the CDBG funding, the council unanimously voted to accept the grant.
“I’m really excited about it and I think everyone involved with this is really excited about the potential of the project too,” Nay said.
Gunnison Valley Recreation Director Tyson Brackett told the leaders he had participated in a Zoom meeting with other rec directors in Sanpete to discuss if summer recreation could be resumed and they had decided it simply wasn’t feasible.
Brackett says recent guidelines on sporting activities released by the governor’s office had mandated that athletes stay at least 10 feet apart from each other for any sporting event.
“Even if we dropped to ‘low risk’ we couldn’t play this summer, because how do you space out the kids every 10 feet?” Brackett said. “How do you have a separate helmet and bat for every kid? How do you give a high five when someone hits the ball? We decided for the safety of the kids we had to cancel it.”
He said they hope to resume the recreation program in August with soccer, flag football and volleyball.
Brackett says the new coronavirus pandemic and the suspension of the recreation programs had made a hit in the rec department budget. He said they had held off some major purchases, such as jerseys, but he was concerned about hundreds of dollars of concessions possibly going to waste.
Nay told Brackett she might be able to purchase some for use in the Casino Star Theatre to avoid it all going bad.