Searcy Parks and Recreation has been given up to $24,000 for dirt work and repairs to the adult softball fields.
Parks and Recreation Director Mike Parsons said the $24,000 would be the “high end” of what was needed to make improvements to the fields that are being used as as overflow fields for youth baseball and softball tournaments. Last week, the Searcy City Council approved appropriating the money from general fund unappropriated reserves.
Parsons said Monday that work had not begun yet on the four fields on Queensway Street, “just north of the peewee football field parking lot,” but he was set to meet with the contractor Tuesday.
“We’ve had these fields longer than I have been here and we’ve kept them up for the most part,” he said. “We rent them out for tournaments, KLIFE uses them, things of that nature. ... Mainly they are used for the adult softball leagues that happen in spring and in the fall. Some years numbers are up, some are down, but here recently they have become overflow fields for baseball and softball tournaments.
“Because they are able to use these fields, two of them are lighted. They bring in numerous more teams. Before it was just softball using it.”
Parsons mentioned $10,000 his department received in 2021 from the Searcy Advertising and Tourism Promotion Commission for temporary fencing used to convert the adult fields into youth fields for large tournaments.
“Two to three weeks ago, we let baseball use them and it helped out tremendously because the amount of baseball teams that had come in” for a tournament,” he said. “... They are booked every single weekend with either baseball or softball.”
Parsons said he met with a couple of the baseball and softball tournament directors and they gave him a list of things they would like to see improved at the adult complex for them to want to come back and bring more teams.
He said some repairs have been done such as fixing the restrooms but the big knock has always been on the fields needing “dirt work, lots of dirt.” Parsons said Parks and Recreation has probably spent $5,000 to $8,000 a year at least in labor, quick-dry and in sand and dirt just to get them “playable,” not counting the man hours that have to be put in to get them ready for the tournaments.
Mayor Mat Faulkner said he has asked Parsons to get with the programs to get a laundry list of things that need to be done “so that our ball fields are in decent shape. So they are working on that and hopefully we will get a report back.”
Faulkner said Recreation Facilities Manager Will Walker had a crew out prepping fields until 2 a.m. for a recent tournament so that baseball could be played on them.
Parsons said the $24,000 would be the “high end of getting the fields up and running and better than they are.” He said the work should probably come in under that amount but he will not know until the work is done.
Councilman Rodger Cargile said he thinks anything done to help those fields is money well spent. Councilman Don Raney said, “I think we need to do it.”
Parsons said there is a tournament in June that may have up to 80 teams participating.
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