Pickerington Times-Sun

Pickerington planning upgrades to Diley Road ballfields

By MICHAEL HAYES
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The Diley Road Ballfields in Pickerington feature two well-tended baseball diamonds and adequate parking in a paved lot.

But there isn't a concession stand, permanent restroom facilities or an adequate storage structure in which to house field equipment.

As part of its 2013-2017 Capital Improvement Plan, the city of Pickerington will allot about $75,000 to build a restroom/storage structure on the site within the next two years.

However, no concession building is in the city's plans. The primary user of the Diley Road Ballfields, the Pickerington Predators youth baseball club, wants to collaborate with the city to construct a concession stand on the site.

The Predators currently lease the ballfields from the city.

"We want to partner with the city," said Jim Sutton, Predators vice president.

"We have people in our organization that can help with material and labor," Sutton said.

He said the Predators have already made significant physical improvements to the complex, including building dug-outs and installing batting cages.

The site currently has a temporary storage container in which a tractor and other equipment as well as a couple of vending machines for beverages can be stored.

Sutton said the next step to make the site more attractive, besides what the city has earmarked, is a viable concession building.

He said proper concessions are essential to serve the large numbers of players and spectators that come to the facility for substantial time periods.

"Honestly, if you're there for a doubleheader, that's a five-hour time frame," Sutton said.

He said a concession structure would simply make the facility more attractive, especially in the competitive arena of youth travel baseball.

"We're trying to make this a great park for kids to play," said Sutton.

Pickerington City Council's Safety Committee discussed the Predators informal proposal at its April 17 meeting.

"Our original idea was not to include the concession (stand) only because that is kind of a seasonal thing," said Pickerington Parks and Recreation Director Rebecca Medinger.

City Councilman Mike Sabatino expressed concerns that having "an outside agency making improvements on city property" could present a liability issue as well as give them "an implied advantage" towards any future uses of the ballfields.

City Manager Bill Vance said if the Pickerington Predators want to make a more formal proposal, the matter should go before the city's Parks and Recreation Board "to see how they felt about it and we can go forward from there."

Medinger indicated another restroom is also to be installed at the city's Disc Golf Course in Simsbury Park as part of the same CIP, also for projected cost of $75,000.

City Councilman Brian Sauer suggested the city go ahead and install the restrooms at the disc golf course this year and then wait until 2014 to upgrade Diley Road ballfields in light of the Predators recent proposal for additional upgrades.

"That was kind of our thought as well," Medinger said.

Sutton said he hopes something can be worked out between the Predators and the city.

"We want to keep our Pickerington kids playing here," Sutton said.

"We hope we can continue to partnership with the city and make this facility tremendous," he said.

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