By Seth Littrell
Register News Writer
The Richmond City Commission voted 3-2 on Tuesday to rescind a previous order to restore the Earle Combs girls’ softball field in Irvine-McDowell Park.
The commission voted May 28 to restore the field that had been removed late last year.
That vote also was split 3-2, and Commissioner Robert Blythe, who then voted to restore the field, said he reserved the right to change his mind if new details were brought to light.
“I don’t use that field,” Blythe said Tuesday night. “But I do want the people who do use it to be able to weigh in on the decision of whether or not it stays.”
Blythe said restoring the field would cost the city more than $40,000, according to research he gathered by City Manager Jimmy Howard, Erin Moore, director of recreation administration; Joe Bentley, director of parks maintenance; Dan McBride, parks board chair; and Lorie Murphy-Tatum, tourism director.
Blythe said the determining factor for him was the need for the field by the programs that would use it.
“What I understand now is that the level of operation for those programs is not, perhaps, what it used to be,” Blythe said.
That, coupled with the cost of the restoration, he said, caused him to think the city could get by without spending the money.
Under the new order, the ball field will be replaced with green space. Blythe said the space also could be used as a more appropriate site for the memorial in the park to the 11 local victims of a 1972 plane crash.
Commissioner Laura King, who voted against the order along with Commissioner Jim Newby, said restoring the field would save money in the long run.
“I think at some point we’ll have to spend more money,” King said. “When we put a new field in, you’re talking about eighty to a hundred thousand dollars, so $40,000 would have probably been half the cost of what it would cost us to put a field back in for the girls.”
King said the parents of girls who play on the field had told her it was the best field they had. She said the girls’ time constraints will be hindered with one less field to play on.
“I’m sorry to the girls who won't have a field,” King said.
In previous discussions, Mayor Jim Barnes has said creating a girls softball field at Lake Reba Park would be preferable to keeping the field at Irvine-McDowell.
In other business the commission:
• Unanimously adopted a budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year as read on June 25. The budget estimates nearly $24.3 million in revenues to cover almost $23.7 million in expenses.
The budget was supposed to go into effect on July 1. However, the mayor held off the vote because Commissioner Donna Baird was out of town and he wanted all commissioners present for the vote.
• Accepted the resignation of Mason Dale from the Richmond Police Department.
• Promoted Lisa Marcum from secretary to case worker for the Section 8 department and hired Samantha Lee hired as secretary.
• Accepted the resignation of Keith Joy from the Human Rights Commission.
• Appointed Shannon Combs to the EKU Center for the Arts Board, replacing David Fernandez, whose term has expired.
• Accepted Morton Salt Company’s bid of $58.92 per ton for road salt.
Seth Littrell can be reached at email@example.com or 624-6623.