WESTLAKE - Practice began Saturday, April 13, for hundreds of youth participating in the 2019 Westlake Baseball League program. Teams and coaches fanned out to several city parks, including Clague Fields on Clague Road.
While players practiced hitting, pitching and fielding, city officials said they were preparing bids for proposals to redo the three existing baseball fields. When completed, the new Clague Road park will have four playing fields as well as a new concession stand, bleachers, bathrooms, scoreboards and additional parking.
The plan to increase parking from 59 to 119 spaces was good news for baseball fans as well as officials with Clague Playhouse and Clague Museum, home of the Westlake Historical Society. Clague Playhouse Board Chair Richie Lynch told council members at a January meeting there was a great need for increased parking.
Recreation Director Bob DeMinico has met with representatives of the baseball league, the playhouse and historical society to hammer out an agreement that will further alleviate parking hassles when the playhouse has a production on nights baseball also is scheduled.
"We worked out better communication when something is coming up,” said Jerome Welliver, vice president of the baseball league, who was involved in those meetings. “We're going to be staggering game dates."
When the playhouse has an event scheduled on Thursday evenings, the league will have just one game instead of several to alleviate pressure on parking.
DeMinico and city engineer Bob Kelly said they have worked with residents living near the ball fields for more than a year about their concerns. "We made several changes from initial discussions to accommodate some of their concerns," said DeMinico. He said he believes "community members are looking forward to the project."
Chief among resident and baseball league concerns was an ongoing drainage issue that forced cancellation of practices and games and left standing water in back yards following heavy rains. Kelly said a new stormwater system will alleviate those conditions. Homeowners were offered an opportunity to tie into the new city system to assist them with drainage issues.
Both administrators said efforts were made to remove as few trees as possible during the project. Kelly said plans call not only to replace those trees following construction, but to add dozens more.
Welliver believes the city has taken a strong interest in providing what is needed. He complimented the planning and research that went into the design. A 1982 graduate of Westlake High School, he recalls playing on the fields as a kid, and believes the field upgrades will "ensure a great start for younger players."
City Council is expected to authorize the administration to begin the bid process in the next few weeks. Once a contractor is approved, construction is set to begin around mid-July. DeMinico said grass should be planted by fall to give it a chance to stabilize through the winter and spring before the kids hit the fields again next season.