If you are reading this article, you are probably among the thousands of community members and out-of-town guests who enjoy Ashland area high school and summer baseball and softball leagues – either as a player, a coach or a fan. You were probably delighted to see the construction beginning on the long-awaited fan plaza at Jack Anderson Ball Park. Like you, we were thrilled to see this important community project start taking shape.
Unfortunately, the city identified a potential problem with the site elevations that needed to be corrected. Despite their best effort, City personnel were unsuccessful in finding a resolution with the construction company and engineers. The city had no choice but to halt the project completely in October.
Members of the Ashland Youth Ball Association board attended the Jan. 8 Ashland City Council meeting to learn what was being done to resolve the issues. We were disheartened to learn that the City had essentially reached a stalemate with the engineering firm. We posed several solutions and offered to work with the City and the engineers to find alternatives in the coming weeks.
The Ashland Gazette published an article reporting on the discussion at the City Council meeting; we share our perspective on a few issues in 'Clarifications to Jan. 15 Ashland Gazette Article'.
As you sort through this information, please bear in mind the following facts: AYBA is a volunteer organization that operates summer ball programs for over 250 Ashland kids each year. In order to improve the quality of the programs, AYBA has led the fundraising for the four-phase ballpark redevelopment project, which seeks to bring the fields and facilities located at the City of Ashland's Jack Anderson Ball Park to current standards for communities of Ashland's size. Under a Letter of Understanding, AYBA collaborates with the City and School District to maintain the facilities at the park, assist with fundraising, and operate the youth ball program. Separately, an Interlocal Agreement defines the "operation, maintenance and development" of the ball fields as being solely the responsibility of the City and the School District. Importantly, while AYBA provides input on project requirements, and has through a group of affiliated volunteers provided fundraising toward improvement of the park, the organization is not an official party to construction or engineering contracts, and it is in fact required by the Letter of Understanding to transfer all funds raised to the City "prior to any work beginning on approved projects."
After researching construction alternatives, we do remain optimistic that all the partners on this project will be able to find a path forward that restarts construction, so the fan plaza is ready for summer leagues, if not for spring baseball. A path that demonstrates our collective, positive stewardship of our taxpayer and philanthropic dollars.
* an earlier version used the phrase "ballpark facilities and capital improvements;" that has been replaced with a direct quotation from the Interlocal Agreement.