| May 24, 2007

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Feature Article - 24, 2007

There's no joy in Sharbot Lake for young ballplayers

by Jeff Green

It was sunny and mild this past Monday night, perfect baseball weather. But for 11 members of the Sharbot Lake Mites baseball team, (aged 4-7) their home opening baseball game was still cancelled, because the crumbling Sharbot Lake Ball Park is too dangerous.

There’s nothing wrong with the field, but the players’ benches and the bleachers for the fans cannot be used.

The players’ benches are in danger of collapsing, and in one case there are exposed nails where the bench has come off of its base. Marcie Webster, the coach of the Sharbot Lake team, cancelled the game when she realised that they had not been repaired.

Injunction _served

Early last week, Webster approached the Central Frontenac Township office about the problems, which have been developing over several years, and later in the week she also approached local Councilor Bob Harvey, but nothing has been done to this point.

“I had no choice but to cancel the game,” Webster said from the empty ballpark on Monday night.

She had invited Central Frontenac Mayor Janet Gutowski to come to the park that night to see its condition, and Gutowski agreed the state of the players’ benches made it impossible to hold the game.

“You can’t bring children into this kind of hazard,” Gutowski agreed. “I came to look at the park a few weeks ago,” she added, “but I thought that no teams were playing here this year. The men’s league has moved to the Parham field, and I had heard that the children were all playing in Mountain Grove and Parham, so I didn’t realise how urgent the situation was.”

Central Frontenac Council has been made aware of the condition of the ball field in the past. Last summer, Jim Webster, the father of team coach Marcie, appeared before council with a plan to fix up the ball field using volunteer labour and money that he had raised; however the township staff had issues around building permits and engineering studies for a proposed roof repair to the bleachers, and the repairs never took place.

Meanwhile the wood kept deteriorating and vandals have done some damage to bleacher seats as well, even pulling out some concrete posts.

The local recreation committees have picked up the slack to maintain the ball field in Parham, and in Mountain Grove the recreation committee had to bring the field back into proper repair for the baseball league to return this year.

“Recreation facilities are township assets,” said Janet Gutowski, “and they are a township responsibility. “One way or another, we need to make sure they are safe.” Gutowski said that she spoke to the township clerk before coming out to the field on Monday night, and the matter will be looked at in the near future.

Meanwhile the Sharbot Lake Mites have a practice scheduled for Thursday night.

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