Field of Dreams committee wants new backstop

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Committee members to attend Park District meeting in hopes of learning why old backstop can't be replaced

By Andrew Harner

The Vandalia Field of Dreams committee on Thursday will search for an answer as to why the Park District will not allow the chain-link fence backstop at the Vandalia High School softball field to be replaced with brick and netting.

During the Field of Dreams meeting on Tuesday, committee members discussed the positives of upgrading the backstop to match the style of the high school baseball diamond, while wondering what the real problem with doing the work is.

The answer, they are hoping, will come at the Park District’s meeting on Thursday, where the committee will express what they believe are the positives of the improvements.

On Tuesday, members said that backstop netting is more attractive than chain-link fence, that a new backstop would correspond well with the other new facilities at the high school and that the netting helps protect the condition of balls that are fouled straight back.

The softball dugouts have already been removed for renovation, and the project to redesign them to look like the dugouts at the baseball field has already been approved.

Before building the new dugouts and replacing the fencing along the outfield lines at the softball field, some of the light poles need to relocated, and softball coach Brian Buscher reported that Ameren will move the poles for free once a proper crew is assembled.

Once the poles are moved, the main dugout construction will begin.

In other action at Tuesday’s meeting:

•The committee approved a plan to have Effingham Signs assemble a crew to replace any burnt out light bulbs at the high school baseball and softball fields.

There are approximately 15 bulbs that need replaced, and the bulbs will be supplied by the Park District.
Effingham Signs will charge the committee $180 an hour for the work, which includes a crane truck and workers to install the lights.

The lights need to be replaced before Sept. 19, which is the start date of the Egyptian Illini Conference Baseball Tournament, but the work can’t start until Ameren moves the softball poles.

•Committee member Steve Ledbetter reported that about 35 engraved brick pavers have been sold, and the committee decided to continue selling the pavers through the end of September.

To purchase a paver, contact Steve Ledbetter at steveledbetter68@gmail.com or 267-4559.

A 4-inchX8-inch paver, which can have up to three lines of text, can be purchased for $40, and an 8-inchX8-inch paver, which can have up to seven lines of text, can be purchased for $80.

•The committee discussed the possibility of purchasing an Infield Rascal, which is an infield drag and could be used on the warning track.

The Infield Rascal should reduce the number of weeds growing in both places, and costs about $3,200. Fundraising would need to occur to make the purchase.

•The committee also talked about possibly purchasing Beam Clay permanent pitcher’s mound and batter’s box pads.

Those pads would be installed a few inches below the dirt, and would reduce the amount of maintenance needed done to those areas after games.

Cost of the pad for the pitcher’s mound is $725, and the cost for the batter’s boxes is $835. The benefit is that the pads are supposed to be permanent, with only occasional repair needed on the pitcher’s mound because of the constant pounding.

•The next public Field of Dreams meeting will be on Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Vandalia.