The Richmond Register

February 28, 2013

Little League asks for improved field maintenance

By Bill Robinson
Register Editor

RICHMOND — The state of youth baseball fields in Richmond’s Lake Reba Park “has really gone down hill in the last couple of years,” Lloyd Rhodus of the Richmond Little League told the city commission Tuesday night.

Although some of the problem could be attributed to lack of maintenance, some is the result of bad maintenance, he said.

City mowers run into fences and gates, damaging them; mowers that make 360-degree turns rotate on fields when the ground is wet, creating divots; mowers clip sprinkler heads, disabling them; and city trucks drive on wet fields, cutting ruts in them, Rhodus said.

The ruts and divots are “a busted mouth or a broke ankle waiting to happen,” he said.

“We’re not trying to make anybody mad or step on anybody’s toes,” Rhodus said. “We just want our fields fixed.”

The league isn’t asking for much, he said, just some grass seed, fence/gate repairs and working sprinklers for irrigation.

With 700 children on its teams, the Richmond Little League has the most participants of any Little League in Kentucky, Rhodus said. It also is the only such league that substantially supports the municipal fields on which it plays, having contributed about $27,000 last year.

League officials have met repeatedly with city officials, he said, but the problems haven’t been resolved.

Mayor Jim Barnes said he had come away from a previous meeting with an impression the league wanted to take over the fields and for “the city to get out of ” their maintenance.

However, Barnes said a nonworking sprinkler system was “inexcusable.”

The mayor promised to arrange a meeting with Erin Moore, assistant parks and recreation director, and Joe Bentley, head of building and grounds, to resolve the issues.

Rhodus also asked if the city could provide space for the league to conduct weeball games, for children too young for T-ball. Work was started never completed on a weeball field in Lake Reba Park, he said, something he did not understand.

Barnes said problems with the soil and complaints from neighbors led the city to abandon plans for a weeball field near a park fence. The field would have been virtually in some residents’ backyards, the mayor said.

Rhodus also asked if another field or entire baseball complex could be named for New York Yankees legend Earle Combs, since a field named for him in Irvine-McDowell Park has been removed.

Barnes said he would like to see the city’s entire baseball complex named for Combs, who played centerfield for the Yankees and was one of the hitters in its famed “Murderers Row.”

City Commissioner Robert Blythe, echoing a comment by Commissioner Jim Newby during the Feb. 19 work session, said he would like to see Moore named interim or action director of parks and recreation until the city reaches a decision on the permanent replacement for director Kevin Gorman, who retired late last year.

In other action, the commission approved final reading of ordinances:

• Revising the business license requirement to prevent businesses from avoiding taxes by re-organizing under a new name

• Prohibiting occupancy of dwellings in which methamphetamine was made, until certified as uncontaminated

• Allowing Richmond Utilities to sell bonds to pay off others with higher interest rates.

The commission also approved orders:

• Accepting the resignation of Teddy Taylor from the parks board

• Appointing Gary Ford and Kathy Holmes to five year terms on the parks board

• Accepting the resignation of Susanne M. Haire from the Section 8 Housing Department

• Transferring Jason Rawlins from the building and grounds to the codes department

• Terminating the employment of John Sturnoiolo, a probationary officer in the police department.

The commission also hired five seasonal golf maintenance workers: Colbert Gautreaux, Joel Hardestry, Jon Robinson, Jeremy Zabierek and Charles Foster. All will earn $7.25 an hour, except Foster, a ninth season worker, who will make $7.50.

Hired as seasonal workers for Gibson Bay Golf Course were: Herbie Stamper, Aaron Spencer, David Russell, Jim Tanara, Kelsey Gadd, Keely Holsinger, Trina Evans, Rachel Gregory Stephanie Giacchini and Kyle Turner. All will make $7.25 an hour.

Bill Robinson can be reached at editor@richmondregister.com or at 624-6690.