The mayor and council received a letter of correspondence from Ken Edwards, umpire in chief of the Quesnel girls softball at Monday’s council meeting.
The letter outlined concerns Edwards has with the ball parks at West Fraser Timber Park, namely the safety of the players, after a player was struck with a softball.
“I am absolutely pleased and grateful with the condition and maintenance of our ball parks and facilities in West Fraser Timber Park,” the letter read.
Edwards continued that “recent games at the park have revealed possible safety issues that exists at Rotary Park baseball diamond.”
Of primary concern is the safety of the dugouts.
“During play, a batted ball can be hit directly into the dugout through the opening closest to home plate and strike anyone standing or seated within the dugout,” the letter explained.
It goes on to explain the softball can also enter the dugout through the opening above the fence and below the roof of the dugout.
Since there is no caging or fencing, stray softballs are able to enter the dugout, creating a safety risk to players.
“I would like to see a gate installed in said opening closest to home plate and page wire installed in the gap below the dugout roof,” the letter read.
Edwards explained this work would have to be done on eight dugouts, but is only necessary for the opening closest to home plate.
Coun. Ed Coleman suggested the issue was not necessarily a council decision and could be handled by public works staff.
“I believe we can refer this issue back to staff and I am confident they’ll be able to handle it,” Coleman said.
While Coleman did not find the project to be of high priority, Coun. John Brisco felt otherwise.
“I think, from the sound of the request, there’s a sense of urgency from the safety perspective and we wouldn’t want to see someone else get hurt,” he said.
Director of Public Works, Ken Coombs noted funds for baseball diamond maintenance have been committed to fix the roof at the Rotary Park baseball diamonds.
“Our budget is depleted, but I can see if there is anything in the reserve fund we can use to fix it,” he explained.
Although there may be some money available to rectify the problem, Coombs is unsure it’s a wise investment at the time.
“We’ve had those dugouts for 10 years and this is the first time an incident of this sort has happened,” he said.
“I’m not sure this is a repair that needs to happen right away.”
The estimated cost of the repair to the dugouts at West Fraser Timber park is about $6,500, said Coombs.
Although this repair isn’t part of scheduled maintenance, Coombs thinks it could happen if council wanted to proceed.
“I’m confident, if it’s council’s wish to do this work, I could find the money in the Timber Park budget,” he explained.
Coombs added the budget for West Fraser Timber Park has been used to add features to the park.
“So far this year, the improvements we’ve made are a practice back board in the tennis courts,” he explained.
“We’ve also installed benches around the playground.”
Council decided to refer the issue back to staff and have them come back to council with a report.
Check future issues of your Observer for an update.