Duncan_It's time for Little League Baseball Season! However, Duncan's baseball fields aren't ready for them. Little League starts May 3, and some parents are concerned about the condition of the city's ballpark. The kids play at Abe Raizen Park, and is owned by the City of Duncan. But, youth baseball officials say the city isn't maintaining the fields as they should be. They say the grass is uneven, patch, has holes, and even rocks. Duncan parents and coaches say baseball isn't the only sport effected by the condition of the park.
Over two-years ago, the Duncan City Council approved measures to revamp soccer fields at the park, but the Chisholm Trail Soccer Association says the fields are still unusable, and that they are forced to play on the baseball fields. So, even though it's baseball season, there are soccer goals on the diamonds, dirt where grass should be, and weeds and grass where dirt should be. "We're lacking a whole lot of dirt," says Duncan Youth Baseball Board Member Rick Martin. "A whole lot of grass, water, general safety for the kids."
Moreover, there are no covers on the dugouts to protect the kids from fly balls, and there are holes in the ground near sprinklers that have no drainage. "It's been five or six days since it rained, and we've still got mud holes," says Duncan Youth Baseball Board President Jason Ille. Also on the Baseball Board is Rick Martin who says there's basically wild land where there should be manicured grass. "We've got an overgrazed pasture, basically," he says.
Baseball board officials don't blame soccer for sharing fields. Some are parents whose kids play both sports - and, they worry about their safety in either field. One parent expressed concern with their kid stepping holes and breaking their ankles or wrists from falling.
Jason Ille pointed out that lack of outfield fence between the soccer field and the baseball outfield - the two fields are only a few feet away from one another. "What happens if you ain't got a fence, and these kids are over here practicing, and they hit it over on that soccer field?"
Soccer officials say the city is working with them, but it has taken a long time. "We just want to get the best playing area, the best safety, for all of our children involved," says Kate McKinney with the Chisholm Trail Soccer Association. But, Ille says no one minds sharing. "We're out here with soccer, too, it's all about the kids," he says.
Martin says quality fields would improve competition and help the players get better. "We have really worked hard, as a board, trying to build the baseball club up over the past few years," he says. "[We've been] trying to get more teams from out of town, out of state, to play. We had a pretty good turnout last year, and they're not gonna return with fields like this."
Duncan is scheduled to host some state championship games at the ballpark in June, but Martin worries about the condition of the fields. He worries that they'll be forced to cancel the tournament, which he says could bring a lot of out of town revenue to the City of Duncan. City officials were unavailable for comment, but 7News has been told that a survey of the soccer fields with the Soccer Association's Field Coordinator surveyed the land on Monday afternoon.
Members of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board also reviewed three potential options for the soccer fields on April 4 of this year, but plans have yet to be finalized. Count on 7News to keep you updated on their progress.
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