BURRILLVILLE – With practices canceled and tournaments delayed hours spent trying to prepare the field with volunteer labor, coaches and league organizers visited in September to inform members of the city council of the poor conditions on a field of softball in the Hauser recreation area.
Now efforts are underway to replace that field, with $65,000 approved to hire a contractor to lay out a new surface.
“I went there the other day and you could almost make pottery out of that stuff,” said Jeff McCormick, director of public works. “It doesn’t dry out.”
The Howard Avenue Recreation Area includes three softball fields and a t-ball field – but it was the area known as the No. 1 Southwest Infield that saw the most trouble – with conditions constantly wet, according to those who play there.
Groups that pay to use the facility include Burrillville Girls’ Softball, Burrillville Youth Football & Cheer, Burrillville Adult Softball League and more. DPW maintains the facility at a cost of $27,000 a year and collects about $6,000 in user fees, according to McCormick.
McCormick said he plans to apply for funding to replace the surface as part of the city’s capital improvement budget, which is approved in June, but now hopes the project will be done much sooner.
“I’m trying to get ahead of the game, bid in April and go for it as soon as it starts to dry up in May,” McCormick told advisers at a meeting last week. “This year is going to be a city of mud until May, at least. I prefer to try to get things done because the people who were here will not see anything happening if we wait.
McCormick noted that the city has made efforts to repair the surface in the past, including covering it with a soil mix purchased from New England Specialty Soils just a few years ago. But the mix either didn’t have the right consistency or wasn’t applied correctly, leading to continuously wet conditions.
He noted that DPW could do the upcoming improvements in the field in-house, but would prefer to hire professionals and see how they handle the project first. His staff, he noted, could still do some of the drainage work.
“I think it would be worth seeing how it’s done properly,” McCormick said, noting that the floors alone for the project cost $28,000.
“Let the professional do it and be really good students,” councilor Dennis Anderson agreed.
Councilors voted unanimously to allocate unrestricted money remaining in the main capital fund to fund the project.