Gunnison Mayor Lori Nay asked the South Sanpete School District (SSSD) to pay $58,500 for the completion of phase one of the community ballpark at the February school board meeting.
The original budget of $293,000 grew to $329,000 to complete the first phase. Mayor Nay noted all the things that unexpectedly came up that the city was forced to cover, or the cost was more than expected.
She compared the renovation of the ballpark to the Casino Star Theatre that she owns. She said that you just want to start fresh. And then when you get started, there is a lot more that you must correct before you can start.
“The teams are going to have to stop hitting balls into the fences,” Nay said.
The replacement of the fences was a large part of the spending that the city was not expecting to cover. Some of the fencing had to be replaced due to damage from balls being hit during practice and warmups into the fence.
Another unexpected expense for the city was the draining of a septic tank that was in front of the concession stands. When the building was placed in 1981, there were no sewer lines close, and the need for the septic tank came into play.
“It has not been pumped since the placement to our knowledge,” said Robert Anderson, city councilman over recreation. “So, while we had it all dug up, we got it drained.”
One of the largest improvements that have been made to the fields is the drainage system. Gunnison City employees along with ground crews from the district worked to make sure that when it rains; there won’t be any standing water anywhere on the field. This will help to keep games going, especially the early season high school games.
“We have great partnerships,” said Nay. “The city, surrounding cities, school district, private donors, have all come together to make this a reality.”
The mayor is asking for the ballpark to be more of a 50-50 split rather than the district only paying a small portion and receiving many of the benefits.
“Gunnison City has worked very hard to secure the federal grant money used, and the school district is just getting it for free,” she said.
Nay said that the city understood that they have several more options for grants than the school district does, but they want to work together to make this work.
She said, “We are all in this for the same thing: the youth of our community.”
The mayor said that there is just so much that the volunteers have left to do, but they need the funds to continue.
The school board members wanted to know where the money went that they earned in an auction they hosted last year. The mayor had only mentioned the $40,000 given from the district.
“It’s in a bank account, and it’s already spent,” she replied.
The money will be for the planter boxes and the gate to the complex, as it was designated from the beginning. They are asking for additional funds due to the damaged fences and the irrigation upgrade.
Mayor Nay also told the school board that when the water was shut off last fall, the city continued to make sure that there was still water for the ballpark. From September until the middle of November, there were 10 million gallons of water used on the ball fields which cost the city about $15,000.
The school board asked if that created a problem for the citizens in Gunnison or made it so that they couldn’t use water. Anderson said not that time of year it didn’t, but with the two new approved subdivisions going in, the city needs to be more mindful of the water usage.
“We want the park to keep looking good, but one well supplies water for everyone, and water (availability) is a never-ending struggle,” he said. “But we can’t have safe play without nice grass either.”
Nay said that in the future, they will need to work out a deal regarding water usage. She was aware that new seed had just been placed and required a lot of water. Once the weather warms up and the fear of freezing pipes isn’t an issue, a pressure reducer valve will be placed at the complex, which will help with water usage also.
“We aren’t done,” said Anderson. “We already have in the works the new scoreboards that will cost about $20,000 so some mother doesn’t have to sit on the side with her stopwatch determining the amount of time left in the game.”
He said that the city wants this to be a safe place for the “young folks” to play, and they want people to walk into the complex and say what an amazing facility it is.
“We have a great group of people doing great things,” he said. “But it’s way more than a big elephant can eat in one bite.”
The SSSD also wants to be good partners with the city in making sure that everything is fair when it comes to the complex. Jake Hill, the district’s business manager, will investigate things and put together some options that will work best for them both.