Washington Youth Baseball strikes out with park revitalization

The pond dredging at Washington Park has caused problems at Shetland and Pinto baseball fields

April 8, 2014
The parking lot between the Shetland and Pinto youth baseball fields in Washington Park is covered by a thick layer of mud from pond dredging remnants that had been stockpiled there over the winter. - Mike Jones / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

The dredging of Washington Park’s pond has thrown a curveball to the Washington Youth Baseball league as it prepares to open the season Monday.

Large piles of mud and silt dredged from the bottom of the nearby pond were piled in the parking lot between the Shetland and Pinto baseball fields, causing what league officials dubbed a safety hazard for children and parking nightmare for their parents.

The parking lot was supposed to be a temporary storage area during the pond dredging this winter, but Washington City Council terminated its contract with Piccolomini Contractors of Fayette County earlier this year after the project was not completed by the Dec. 31 deadline.

That left globs of mud and other debris in the parking lot even as kids began practicing at the baseball fields recently.

“There was definitely a safety issue with the kids playing on it,” Washington Youth Baseball President Mark Murphy said.

City officials are trying to take quick action to find a stopgap solution for the problem. City council agreed last Thursday to pay $16,500 to El Grande Industries Inc. of Monessen to remove the mud, fix ruts and put down a stone aggregate for traction. Lynn Galluze, the city’s administrative coordinator, said the piles of dirt were removed Monday and she expects the parking lot to be usable again by Thursday or Friday.

“I know it’s been a concern and we’re trying to get to it as fast as we can,” she said.

That was welcome news to Murphy, who had been concerned about younger siblings of the baseball players climbing on the piles or rummaging through the muck when the season begins Monday. The Shetland and Pinto leagues include about 300 players ages 4 to 8.

“They said they would fix the parking lot,” Murphy said. “It’s the city’s parking lot so … until they’re done fixing it, I guess we’ll see what they do and go from there.”

The city is working to fix the downtrodden pond as part of its park revitalization project and is putting out new bids to restart the construction. Officials also are applying for a $250,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to build the walkway around its banks.

Work will also begin again on grading and fencing from those baseball fields to the Lions Pavilion near the pond. Council voted Thursday night to pay Allegheny Fence of Pittsburgh $13,840 to build a chain-link fence near the pavilion and perform other work to the make the area safer.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and Patch.com. He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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