Discussion at the Tuesday, Aug. 18, meeting of Holyoke City Council bumped up tentative plans for making improvements to the Holyoke Ballpark.
Tom Bennett and Marcus Kammer were in attendance to request use of the ballpark for hosting the Babe Ruth Regional Tournament in July 2016. This request was approved, and further dialogue ensued regarding the attention that needs to be given to the ballpark.
“As far as small-town baseball goes, this is a pretty big deal,” said Kammer, who has been a coach for several years. “These teams are top-of-the-line kids. We would love the opportunity to host a tournament like this. I think it’s something that will be very beneficial for our hometown kids, and it will be a great boost to the local economy for the four days it runs.”
Bennett noted he will be making his pitch to coordinators at a September meeting. Thus, he asked for the council’s support in making an effort to complete some various much-needed improvements at the ballpark.
Kammer went on to explain that the condition of the baseball facilities would not be suitable for the expectations that other teams have when competing in a tournament of this caliber.
The City of Holyoke has received a GOCO grant that will be used for awnings and new dugouts. However, the grant will not be used for construction of new restrooms at the ballpark.
Ron Miles was also present at the meeting, coincidently, to voice his concern about the poor condition of the facilities, particularly the restrooms and overgrown weeds.
“I think bringing this tournament to town is a great deal, and it’s never something to pass up,” Miles stated. “But the ballpark has been let go for too long. We have signs that say ‘Pride and Progress’ at all four entrances to town, but I haven’t seen any pride or progress at the ballpark. Let’s put some effort into improving those facilities and host some great baseball.”
City Superintendent Mark Brown noted that the city plans to start erecting the awnings in the fall. As far as the restrooms go, “money and time is the question.”
Bennett expressed that, if need be, he — along with Kammer and others — would be willing to raise funds to get the new restroom project moving. He also suggested that if construction could not be done in time, at least whatever can be done to the existing restrooms needs to be done.
“The ballpark facilities don’t get much time off,” Kammer said. “Upgrades will make their money back pretty easily.”
The council approved additional motions to aesthetically improve the current restrooms and to have Brown reach out to contractors and see what can be accomplished toward constructing new ones.
Mini Park, airport projects put on hold
Brown informed the council that work on the Lions Club Mini Park has come to a standstill.
“I’m worried about the condition of the Scheunemann wall,” he stated. “We are not sure if theirs will stay up well if we pull ours down.”
Brown said he plans to have a structural engineer come out to inspect the situation and make recommendations.
One bid was received for the airport taxiway project — a bid Brown said was “way out of budget.” Therefore, the project will be postponed until early spring.
“The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) will write the grant so the money is available come February,” Brown said. “At that time we will start taking new bids.”
Brown said it might be useful to split the project into three sections to possibly get more reasonable bids for each one.
Council members agreed to allow Mayor Orville Tonsing to sign all documents pertinent to the taxiway project to tie up the funds to ensure they are kept.
Marcum shares third, best website option
Holyoke police officer Joe Marcum shared a quote from a third website development company that he thinks would be the best fit for developing a website for the City of Holyoke.
Marcum said this company, Revize, actually reached out and found him.
“They offer the same thing as Civic Plus (the company the city was highly considering), but they are just less expensive,” Marcum said. “They are said to be one of the best in the country when it comes to security.”
Marcum further explained that the city could go ahead and get its .gov email accounts in place without having the website started. He requested a $500 budget to secure a domain name and get the email system started, stating that each account would cost about $10 per month.
Marcum had informed the council that a grant was previously awarded to the city, but because of the lack of a .gov email address, the notice was never received and the city lost the grant.
Tonsing was adamant about the need to get the .gov addresses in place soon, namely to avoid future loss of grant funds. Tonsing then added the approval of Marcum’s $500 budget to the agenda for the Sept. 1 council meeting.
Brown described three power outages since the last meeting.
Two were next to Smith Hardware Aug. 6 and 13. The first was caused by a raccoon, and the second was just one fuse down the line from the first, possibly a subsequent overload caused by the first.
The third outage was caused by a trencher hitting a private line Aug. 17.
Brown detailed how a sinkhole in the 600 block of East Hale Street had been repaired, and concrete should soon be poured in the alleyway behind Holyoke Fitness Club and the other businesses on that block.
Holyoke Police Chief Doug Bergstrom commended officers Mark Werts and Marcum for their excellent work in investigating a burglary and making the necessary arrest.
In other business Aug. 18, the council:
—amended the application for the Pedal the Plains special events permit to run from 1-10 p.m.
—held a 27-minute executive session to receive legal advice on specific legal questions from City Attorney Al Wall.
Holyoke Enterprise August 27, 2015