Chesterton Tribune

Baseball and softball fields in short supply in Chesterton

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By MARGARET L. WILLIS

Baseball and softball teams are vying for the limited number of fields in Chesterton.

The need for additional ball fields was all too apparent Tuesday, when two separate groups approached the Chesterton Park Board hoping to gain access to the 5th Street and Porter Ave. field, which is already in use by two other ball clubs.

Joe Gonazales, representing Liberty Rec Softball, sought permission to use the baseball field at 5th St. and Porter Ave. for softball practices for his 10-11 and 12 year-old Majors teams.

Gonzales and Dave Musgrave, who made a similar request for the same field on behalf of the 14 year-old Duneland Flyers baseball team, were told that the organizations that the Chesterton organizations that have already made arrangements would take precedence.

Board members urged both Gonzales and Musgrave to make contact with the Duneland Diamonds organization and try to “work it out” with them. If there are practice slots available, then there are; if not, board president Vincent Emanuele urged them to make contact with the Duneland School Corporation about the possibility of using the Westchester Middle School baseball field. That field previously served as the varsity field Emanuele noted, but is seeing little use now.

The Duneland Diamonds baseball club has had an agreement with the Park Department, going back years, which includes their extensive maintenance work at the field. They and the adult league that uses the field on Sundays, made arrangements with the Park Board in January.

Outline Long-term

Plans for Parks

At least one local resident has responded in a big way to the urgings by the Chesterton Park board for more public participation.

Jenny Orsburn attended Tuesday’s Park Board meeting with a prepared letter outlining her ideas, which she hopes are incorporated into the five year master plan now under development for the Park Department.

Orsburn told the board she is a fourth generation Chesterton resident, as well as a program specialist with the Department of Natural Resources, working on grant programs for the Lake Michigan Coastal Program.

Orsburn’s recommendations include a complete playground equipment safety and maintenance audit, and removal of all unsafe equipment. Also, interpretive projects and increased ADA compliance. Like the park board, Orsburn would like to see an active volunteer program, supported by the park department and park board.

With the new soccer fields and ball fields for locally organized sports programs in place and a new skate park on the horizon, Orsburn said the next necessary steps are general park improvements, play equipment improvements and alternative recreational opportunities, such as passive recreational park land consisting of natural features like wetlands, floodplains and wildlife habitat .

Orsburn said she is willing to volunteer her time in any way needed, especially in Dogwood Park and any natural area efforts.

The potential of Coffee Creek Park is an untapped resource, she said, citing the easy access to downtown

Orsburn told the board that the changing community requires the parks be taken to a “new level.”

Westwood Tot Lot

Tim Sanders, a resident of Westwood Subdivision, was gladdened to hear of the Park Board’s plans to install a tot lot in his subdivision.

The equipment has been purchased, parks superintendent Bruce Mathias, said and as soon as the weather permits, that park, Golf View and Coffee Creek Park are all slated for new playground equipment.

Also “on our radar” are Friendship Land and Dogwood Parks’ playground areas, said park board member Roy Flaherty.

Playground equipment that meets industry safety standards is “extremely expensive,” he noted. However, the board has a goal of having every park units’ playground equipment updated within the next five years. “We recognize the need,” he said.

The board recently assigned themselves each a couple parks to keep tabs and take public input on. Orsburn said she contacted Emanuele about garbage in Dogwood with immediate success.

Sanders and Orsburn were a welcome sight, board members agreed. “You know your neighborhood, you can organize your neighbors,” Flaherty said.

Knowing what needs to be done and organizing community activity to accomplish it are two very different things. “The hard part is getting the bodies here,” said Flaherty.

 

Posted 4/2/2008