City rejects paying for field upgrades
The Orland City Council expressed support for young baseball players Tuesday, but did not open the city's pocketbook for improvements to the field.
Instead, the council wants organizations such as the American Legion, Orland Little League and Orland Unified School District to help with the maintenance of Bihler Field.
A similar recommendation came from the Orland Parks and Recreation Commission concerning the purchase of a soil conditioner called Diamond Pro — a shale and clay amendment that provides compaction, faster drying and smoother playing surface.
The American Legion has a youth team that uses the field and requested the city pay the estimated $6,700 to buy the product.
City Manager Peter Carr said several improvements to the 75-year old field were made recently, including the removal of excess sod — providing a dirt infield, and the addition of a cinders/soil mix amendment.
He said Orland High School's athletic director and Little League officials have not expressed any concerns about the condition of the field.
The Orland Rotary Club donated money for field improvements and there is $1,300 remaining in that fund, Carr said.
But that leaves the funding $5,400 short, Carr added.
Parks commissioners recommended at their Feb. 13 meeting that all stakeholders meet and agree on who will maintain the field and what conditions apply to it, and that field users demonstrate help in maintaining the field.
They also called for future Diamond Pro purchases and applications to be done at the field users' expense, and that any purchase be deducted from the new bleacher budget of $25,000.
In addition, the commission suggested the proper maintenance of a competition diamond should not be the responsibility of city Public Works crews.
The city crews do mow the the field, but the commissioners said the rest should be up to those who use it.
Councilman Jim Paschall said this should be a one-time city purchase
"I am not going to support more than that," he said.
He asked City Attorney Greg Einhorn if the city could use park development impact fees for the purchase.
"I don't really know," Einhorn said, adding it is a gray area since the soil could be considered a one-time capital improvement.
However, future purchases and installation could be in doubt, as impact fees cannot be used for maintenance.
Councilwoman Salina Edwards said it would not be fair and equitable to spend money solely on Bihler Field and not on the six other ball fields in town.
And Mayor Charles Gee said some kind of an agreement should be put together about maintenance and partnerships before the city pays for the soil conditioner.
Edwards asked to pull the item until after the Parks commission meets with the parties on Feb. 27 to get an agreement together.
American Legion Coach Greg Ferreira said the new soil is needed for safety as players at Orland's other fields do not have high-speed balls coming at them like at Bihler.
"Let's just finish what we started," he said.