Planners recommend park money for school ball fields

Ramona High School baseball and softball fields are expected to see improvements this summer. Sentinel file photo
Ramona High School baseball and softball fields are expected to see improvements this summer. Sentinel file photo

Ramona High School is one step closer to receiving funding for safety improvements at the school’s baseball and softball fields.

At its March meeting, Ramona Community Planning Group recommended that the county release $100,000 of Park Land Dedication Ordinance funds that RHS baseball coach Dean Welch, who served to champion the Baseball/Softball Fencing and Dugouts project, had requested.

The money would pay to relocate dugouts so they are at a safer distance, and add safety fencing, a snack bar, team rooms and connecting backstops.

Planning group member Jim Cooper, who served as chair of the Parks and Recreation Subcommittee last year and initiated the call for PLDO projects, said this proposal moved quickly to the phase where it is ready for funding. He credited Welch, noting that the coach had safety concerns for his players.

According to Welch, the project is estimated to cost a total of $160,000, with $100,000 coming from PLDO funds and other money coming from fundraising efforts.

At the December Ramona school board meeting, RHS softball coach Cori McDonald told trustees that about $50,000 is left from a grant received from county Supervisor Dianne Jacob several years ago for part of the renovation.

The softball and baseball programs partner each year on a fundraising golf tournament, with proceeds going to the construction fund, she said.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a baseball game,” she said. “You miss several plays because of the structure of that field.”

The baseball field is “kind of short,” she said, “so balls will fly into the softball field.”

Plans include a team room for softball players, who now put all of their equipment in the school office when they have games, “because there’s no other place at this point,” said McDonald.

“This begins the process,” Assistant Superintendent David Ostermann said before trustees voted 5-0 to go to bid on the project. “If everything goes the way we think it should, then we can get this done over the summertime.”

The county board of supervisors must approve the planning group’s recommendation before the money is released.

“Although the funding is still in the finalization stage, in order to break ground at the end of the current baseball and softball seasons, the bidding process should begin now,” reads Ostermann’s December report to trustees.

In the event funding from the county is uncertain, going out to bid “doesn’t commit us to anything,” he said.

A park fee the county charges on residential building permits generates PLDO money. Fees raised in a community go to projects in that community.

   
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