Standish gets ball rolling for ball fields
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STANDISH — Members of the Standish City Council will meet with members of the Standish-Sterling Youth Sports Organization to draft a written agreement about constructing ball fields at the disused airport on Airpark Drive in Standish, after a discussion at the Standish City Council meeting Monday, Jan. 16.
The city will also draft a special exception to the zoning ordinance to allow for parks and recreational uses for land in the city’s industrial park.
Gary Roper, who represented SSYSO, said originally the group planned for the fields to be at the Standish-Sterling Community Schools’ property, but has been interested in using city property since it was proposed as a site by Councilman Jerry Nelson over the summer.
While the school land could only hold four or five fields comfortably, according to Roper, the airport property could host six.
The issue was brought before the council over the summer before being sent to the city’s planning commission in August for a recommendation. After that, the issue was tossed back to the council.
Under SSYSO’s proposal, it would construct the fields, and take care of them from March through July while the fields are in use for league games and tournaments.
The city would own the property, and maintain the fields during the rest of the year. The city would not have to provide any other funds for the baseball fields.
Roper said SSYSO already has funds for half of the expense of building the first field, and wants to have it finished by the end of the upcoming baseball season.
The group eventually wants to add a concession stand, and Roper brought up the possibility of adding electricity and water lines, though he added those are not needed at this time, and could be brought up separately after a few years.
Mayor Mark Winslow and interim city manager Curt Hillman were both wary about putting the city on the hook financially at a time when it is still weak.
Nelson argued the city could be in better shape down the line, and that is when they could discuss infrastructure to the fields.
“(Water and electricity) doesn’t seem to matter right now,” he said. “They want to use property that’s not being used right now, and it seems like a good use.”
Nelson said the fields being in the city would also help local businesses out, with people stopping off for food, drinks, and gas.
Councilwoman Tosha Tunney said the city could pursue parks and recreation grants with the field, and said if a company came in and wanted to use the property it would be “bad publicity” if they did so without helping construct new fields.
Nelson added that with fields already in place, the city would be eligible for grants that would not need matching funds from the city, through Comerica Park and other sports-focused ventures.
Tunney, Winslow, and Hillman agreed to meet with members of SSYSO to draw up a written agreement spelling out the obligations from each side. They plan on bringing the agreement to the next council meeting on Monday, Feb 20.