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City approves plans for new T-ball field
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The Ceres Youth Baseball organization has been trying to get a t-ball field built at the Costa complex in Smyrna Park for years.

Doug Lemcke, director of Ceres Parks, Recreation & Facilities, submitted a proposal to Tim Kerr, city manager, on June 1. The Ceres City Council gave its approval on June 14.

"It's finally going to happen," said Mike Welsh, CYB coach/2003-2004 Ceres Rotary Club President.

The project will cost more than $15,000 and will be completed in two phases within a five-month period.

"The goal is to start in October and finish up before the 2005 season in March," Lemcke said.

The season starts on March 29.

"We're hoping the kids will be able to play on it next year," said Brian England, CYB president.

City staff opposed expansion in past years for several reasons.

"We were very skeptical ofthe request as we felt it would severally limit the open space for picnics and a resting area between the games," Lemcke stated. "During these difficult fiscal times, we were also concerned about the cost to construct another ball field."

Lemcke said there will be plenty of space for people to sit and eat even with the addition of another field.

"Because the field is so small, we're able to shift some of the existing picnic tables to the side," he said. "We're not losing too much picnic area."

The city won't have to spend a lot of money either.

CYB and the Ceres Rotary Club are providing a substantial amount of funding for the project.

CYB allocated $5,000, while the Rotary donated $9,500.

The city is going to contribute $1,000.

"This is a major contribution for the club," Welsh said. "The only time we have given more is when we gave $20,000 to the Ceres Regional Park last year."

CYB decided to expand to accommodate all players and families.

"It puts everybody inside the park," Lemcke said.

The field that t-ball players use is located at neighboring Carroll Fowler School. Children have had to cross over a paved road to get to the park restrooms.

"It also provides a safer environment," Lemcke said.

The new field will be built between Fields 1 and 4, directly behind the restrooms.

The first phase includes removing concrete picnic tables, cement pads, trees, grass from the infield and installing an irrigation system, a backstop, fencing along the first and third baselines and in the outfield, dugouts and safety netting on field one for foul balls.

The second phase includes redoing the infield and outfield and installing bleachers with safety covers. Additional safety netting might also be installed.

CYB board members and volunteers agreed to do the majority of the work because the city has limited resources.

"As we go through budget cuts, we're going to rely on the community to step forward and assist with donations and physical labor for these types of projects," Lemcke said.

The Ceres Parks, Recreation & Facilities Department will remove and install sections of the existing irrigation system and transfer security lighting and concrete picnic tables and pads.

"We owe a lot of credit to Doug and the city of Ceres for allowing this to happen," said Welsh, who was born in Ceres and played for George Costa in the 1960s.

Added England: "Without him (Doug), this wouldn't have happened. He got it off the ground and talked to the city councilmen for us." - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier