HJ - Softball Field Improvements

Clarinda Cardinal softball player Kennedy Reed tags the baseunner during a game at the field at City Park. Clarinda High School Activities Director Josh Porter wants to resurface the field and make other improvements. Council also heard a proposal of a dog park. (photo by Joe Moore)

Proposals for two community improvement projects were presented to the Clarinda City Council Wednesday, Aug. 14, at Clarinda City Hall.

Clarinda High School Activities Director Josh Porter requested permission to move forward with improvements to the softball field at City Park. Then, later in the meeting, Ayn Taylor proposed constructing a dog park in Clarinda.

Pending the approval of the council and securing the necessary funding, Porter said the Clarinda Community School District would like to make some adjustments to the softball field. Porter said the changes being considered would benefit not only the high school softball program, but also youth softball and baseball teams that use the field.

“Over the last couple of years we’ve done some things at the softball field. They poured concrete; (worked on) some bleachers; we’ve redone some dugouts; the school district purchased a new scoreboard a year; and we got a new sound system a year ago as well. But the only thing we haven’t looked at or done anything with is the actual playing surface, which is probably, ultimately, the first thing we should have looked at,” Porter said.

First, Porter recommended removing the existing infield dirt and replacing it with new red clay. He also suggested installing warning tracks along the foul lines and in the outfield as a safety measure for players.

“The reason there is a warning track is to have the difference between the grass and the rocks so you know there’s a fence coming,” Porter said.

Access to water at the field is also limited. The existing water source is at the concession stand and requires running hosing through the fence to water the field and reduce dust to create a better playing surface.

In comparison, Porter said Clarinda Municipal Stadium has water access behind the pitching mound. He said the school district would like to see something similar installed at the softball field.

Finally, Porter proposed wrapping the outfield fence. This would create a better batting eye for hitters and move spectators from the outfield to the bleachers and foul lines.

“It talking to our coaches, this is the worst playing surface we play on all softball season,” Porter said. “Our coaches do a lot of work on that field to make sure it’s playable, so this would ease some of the maintenance on their part.”

Porter estimated the potential costs of these three projects at $19,500. The council instructed Porter to collect firm bids for the projects and investigate funding options so a formal decision could be reached.

Later, Taylor outlined her proposal for the construction of a dog park in Clarinda. Taylor said she was involved with the development of dog parks in Omaha, Nebraska in the past.

“There is a group of Clarinda citizens that would really like to see a dog park. We have some really phenomenal green spaces in our town and they’re just getting better and better. I just feel like one of the things we’re missing is an off-the-leash dog park,” Taylor said.

As part of the proposal Taylor presented to the council, the dog park would feature a section for smaller dogs less than 20 pounds and a separate area for all dogs. The park would be surrounded by fencing with double gates for safety and at least two entrances.

Taylor suggested Kiwanis Park a possible location for the dog park. She said other vacant lots owned by the city should also be considered to determine the best overall location.

Funding for the project, Taylor said, could come from a combination of grants and private donations. Taylor said the Iowa West Foundation has supported similar projects in the past with grants and there are several other dog organizations that also offer grants. Taylor said she could write the necessary grant applications.

After hearing the proposal, Clarinda mayor Lisa Hull said the dog park would have to be placed on the five-year capital projects plan for the city. This would allow the council to evaluate the necessity of the park and its funding compared to other projects being planned in the city.

Council member Gary Alger said he was concerned about the liability if an incident occurred at the park. Council member Jamie Shore said he would like to see a comparison of cities similar in size to Clarinda with dog parks to evaluate the ongoing cost involved and any issues those cities faced.

Since the dog park was only a discussion item on the agenda for the meeting, the council did not take any action.

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