Thursday, April 12, 2012
The Red Bank Girls’ Softball Association is busy settling into its new home at Memorial Drive and James Avenue. The two fields across from Chattanooga Memorial Park are almost complete and are already being used for practices. Jay Haggard of RBGSA said a soft opening for the fields will be held soon.
The league was displaced by the construction of the new Red Bank Middle School from the four fields it previously used behind Red Bank High School, and this will be its first year playing at the new complex.
At a recent City Commission meeting, Mayor Monty Millard said SCI Tennessee Funeral Services had donated 1,800 square feet of property adjacent to the new fields which will soon be used in constructing a third field.
“This will enable us to push back the backstop on the third field and to have ample parking at the softball fields,” he said.
Those who currently use the fields must park at neighboring White Oak Baptist Church or on the street.
The commission was set to vote at its April 3 meeting on the approval of a $422,000 contract with Competition Athletic Construction to build the third field. A motion was made to approve the bid, but the vote was tabled at the advice of City Attorney Arnold Stulce.
“I know we’ve got the money to replace the fields,” said Commissioner Ruth Jeno, referring to the $546,000 paid to the city last year by Hamilton County for the land where the old fields were located. “I’m concerned about the cost.”
The city had received only two bids for the project, and Jeno felt the city may receive a lower bid.
“I wanted them to start construction this week,” said Vice Mayor John Roberts, explaining that Stulce was concerned about the wording of the contract. “Arnie [Stulce] is looking into the agreement.”
Red Bank Public Works Director Tim Thornbury said the city is now rebidding the contract for the field. He said he will likely present the commission with a new bid to put to vote at its May 1 meeting, and if approved construction on the field will begin three weeks later than if the commission had approved the original bid April 3.
The league is now at maximum capacity with 124 players, said Haggard. While this is a good number for just two fields, he hopes to be able to get back to previous numbers, typically in the 180-200 range, he said.
“We’re actually having to turn kids away,” said Haggard. “With the third field, hopefully we won’t have to do that.”
Public Works Director Tim Thornbury said the department is considering planting leyland cypress trees as a buffer between the fields and surrounding homes, in response to Jeno’s question at a recent meeting whether any complaints had been received by the city from nearby residents.
County Commissioner Joe Graham has given the city $5,000 of his discretionary funds for the softball fields, which Millard said will be used to purchase new bleachers for the complex.
Ace Hardware also recently donated $100 for grass seed and fertilizer for the fields.