Rochester Ball Park Plans
The Rochester city council held a public meeting on Tuesday March 18 at 6:00 pm to discuss the construction of a ball field in Rochester. Sandy Priddy began the meeting by introducing Rochester Mayor Horace Hammers, council members Martha Rowe, Eddie Johnson, and Mike Porter. Ashley Simpson from BRADD, Barren River Area Development Department, was in attendance. Butler County Schools Superintendent Scott Howard works with BRADD, thus how the representative was asked to attend that evening. Also there was Butler County Judge Executive David Fields, as well as 57 community members.
Patrick O Driscroll welcomed everyone. The purpose of the meeting was to start garnering support from the community and surrounding communities pertaining to the revitalization of the Rochester ballpark. The council has met with Ms. Simpson concerning grants. The land has been appraised by a licensed realtor. The project has been approved by city council. Also there has been a meeting with Greenville City commissioner to help write the grant, and a meeting with Muhlenberg Parks and Rec for equipment.
There will be about $5,250 coming to the city of Rochester. “Strong community and parental support is needed with anything”, O’Driscroll said. That was evident at the meeting. A vendor will be needed and it is realistic. A contract with RC is being discussed. “Once the ballpark picks up there’s a need for this”. To write a grant application, “they want to know the community is behind it and it will be utilized”. Mr. O’Driscroll spoke of the sweat equity that will be involved, not just money. They’re trying to get donated equipment from the community.
Butler County Judge Executive David Fields was in attendance, proving that it takes more than one community to get this done.
“Our biggest obstacle will be getting a commitment from a person or persons to oversee. We need help on all this as a community project”. There will be a monthly newsletter starting in May. The hope of this newsletter is to keep everyone informed of all activities. The council is making an effort to make this happen.
“This is something that is definitely needed” as an alternate avenue for kids. After 8 years, Dunmore has 18 teams participating in play at their ballpark. They said they were willing to come to Rochester to help get games going. The other teams coming in, sponsoring different events, is where the money comes in, as well as the concessions.
If a grant is funded in the first cycle, it would be around two years until acceptance. They do require you match the grant. We’re looking at donated labor, equipment use. Pennyrile has said they’ll set the poles. There’s a strong commitment from the county for the lights.
Sue Hammers said one thing we’re trying to do is to get involved with Morgantown. The new high school coach is trying to get involved. “You could have players come down and put on clinics”, O’Driscroll said.
The city council is the focus group of the grant. All of this has to be submitted by April 30. How the field will be used was of one concern. “Grants are due by the end of April and aren’t announced until August”.” Best case scenario would be next spring”, said Ms. Simpson.
Lights, bleachers, pavilion and more things needed were discussed. Sue Hammers asked if we needed to apply for a grant if we already have this manpower. There is feeling that the community has enough equipment. “Either you’re doing it yourself or wait for the grant”, said Simpson. Once federal money is added, it becomes a federal project. “You have to match everything you ask for”, Simpson said.
A permanent concession stand can’t be built because of the backwater. Same goes with the restrooms. A concession stand on wheels was mentioned. Lights, poles, fencing, bleachers and perhaps a pavilion are secured.
“I’ll donate my equipment at any time and put a man there to run it,” said Allen Smith.
“The Morgantown ballpark has 150+ kids and they’re on top of each other in that one ballpark”, was one citizen’s concern. Every player must be insured.
A vote was taken of whether they wanted to apply for a grant, wait the two years, or do it as a community with little to no wait time.
In the end the community of Rochester decided to take on the project as a community, without grant money at this time. They plan to continue to work on the grant for possible use in the future.
“We don’t see this often. This is great”, is what Ms. Simpson said about the community choosing to take on this project.
Story and photos by Andy Sullivan, Beech Tree News