UNION COUNTY — Repairs, replacements, additions, and upgrades will be part of more than $800,000 worth of capital improvements at the Timken Sports Complex.
In a special meeting Thursday afternoon, Union County Council voted unanimously to approve a recommendation by Residential Facilities Director Kevin Shropshire that $824,199 be allocated for a variety of needed capital improvements at the complex including:
• Infield Dirt Mixture ($20,000) — Shropshire said that over the years the dirt has left the infields, making them lower than the grass, preventing water from draining and making the playing surface unsafe in some areas. He said that the dirt “has left on players’ shoes, wind, and rain. This is something that will have to be done about every four to five years. Adding the infield mixture will bring the fields back up to the level they need to be.”
• Warning Track Material ($36,125) — Shropshire said this is made of “ground up bricks” which “creates a rough texture under the player’s feet to let them know that they’re close to the fence.” He said it has also washed away and has been pushed into the ground over the years. Adding brick chips, Shropshire said, will “create a safer warning track and improve the appearance of the complex.”
• Field Gutter Additions ($1,500) — Shropshire said that when the complex was built, the dugouts on two fields were moved so their outfields were visible from their bleachers. He said this took away the concrete sidewalk behind the dugouts allowing all the water shed from the dugouts to “fall on nothing but dirt. This has created large holes on each side of the dugouts and washes all the dirt to the sidewalks where you enter the fields and is a maintenance nightmare.”
Shropshire said the new gutters “will catch the water and dump it onto the sidewalk and not the dirt.”
• Light Upgrades ($3,500) — Shropshire said that the upgrades of the complex lighting are needed because SKYLOGIX Lighting, the company that monitors the network that controls the lights at the complex is “changing over from a 2G to 4G network.” He said the change “will require us to change the two control boxes that controls all the lights at the complex. If we do not change them the lights will not work as of January 2017.”
• Wi-Fi Upgrades ($7,600) — Shroshire said that the Wi-Fi at the complex is outdated “and will not work when people try to connect.” He said the Wi-Fi at the complex is “used by a lot of the coaches/tournament directors during games to track the scores and send them to main website for bracket updates.”
In addition to allowing coaches and tournament directors to connect to the Internet from the complex, Shropshire said the new upgraded system “will allow us to block the system and only allow the people with the password to connect. We will also be able to have a rolling pass code, which will change each week.”
• Equipment Shed Additions ($10,000) — Shropshire said that the complex needs “some type of sheds or another maintenance shed to park and store our equipment. We have one 24×24 shed now that we park some of the mowers in and all of our field prep materials.”
Currently, Shrophsire said that there are two smaller outbuildings located at the top part of the complex. One is used for storing weed eaters and hand tools, the other for drinks and cups. Both, Shropshire said, have been broken into twice and all the equipment stolen.
“We need a more secure and bigger place to store our tools and equipment,” Shropshire said.
• Permanent Meeting/Storage Shed ($30,000) — Shrophire said that during weekend and state tournaments, the complex is required to have a place for umpires to rest and change clothes. At the present time, Shropshire said the only place at the complex for them to do so is the score towers, but these can’t be used for that purpose when someone is operating the scoreboards.
“If we had a 40×40 building that we could use half for food and drink storage and the other for the umpires, coaches, and tournament directors that would be a plus,” Shropshire said. “Right now during state tournaments we are having to rent an event tent with no air conditioning. This will help keep the umpires cool and away from the fans.”
• Picnic Shed Addition ($22,000) — Shropshire said that “we are wanting to add a picnic shed in the front of the food trailer that will allow people in a place to sit and eat once they receive their food. During the weekends there is not enough room in the arcade for everyone to sit. This shed will have a concrete base and a top that will resemble other tops at the complex.”
• Mini Air Conditioning Split Addition to the North Tower ($7,000) — Shropshire pointed out that the north score tower at the complex “will not stay cool during the summer months. I have been told that with the amount of windows and the system that is in place now it will not stay cool. By adding the new system it will keep it as a reasonable temperature for anyone who is running the scoreboards.”
• Gate Relocations & Fence Additions ($4,950) — Shropshire said that both during tournaments and weekly play, it is difficult getting to the entrance gates into the fields. He said that complex personnel have to go through spectators or driver across the grass areas to get to them. Shropshire said that by adding new entrance gates, complex staff will be able to get to the fields from the walking trail and stay away from the crowds at the complex.
The fence additions, he said, will block off the area being the maintenance shed to keep people away from it.
• Field #5 Dugout Expansion ($1,795) — Shrophsire said that the fence on the Field#5 dugouts “has been destroyed by the players playing on that field.”
In addition, Shropshire said that it has been brought to his attention that those dugouts are too small for the number of players on the older teams.
“Our cheapest solution to this problem is to take down the existing fence and move it towards the field six feet and expanding it to the maximum length of 30 feet,” Shropshire said. “This should accommodate all the players and give them more room to move.”
• Asphalt Additions ($42,420) — Shropshire said that during games handicapped and older people have to be transported on a golf cart. He said that the proposed asphalt additions there would be more access to more entrance and exit points and avoid the crowd.
“These paths would attach to the concrete sidewalks in existence now and would also give us a paved entrance to the fields to keep the grass from being destroyed,” Shropshire said.
• Parking Space Lining ($1,225) — Shropshire the parking spaces in the complex parking lot have never been repainted since the facility opened. As a result, the parking space lines have become very hard to see. He said “this is a normal maintenance task that will have to be done about every five years.”
• Bleacher Fence Additions ($23,566) — Shrospshire said that over the years the bleacher shades along with foot traffic up and down the banks to the bleachers have destroyed the grass on the banks. He said it has also resulted in “some pretty steep drops behind the bleachers that is a safety hazard.”
Shropshire said a fence will be installed on all the hills and behind the bleachers once the concrete extension pads have been installed. He said this will create a handicapped area and eliminate the wash/foot traffic problem.
“If we install more grass there it will continue to erode and be a danger to people entering and exiting our complex,” Shropshire said.
• Concrete Extension Pads ($162,595) — Shropshire said these will “improve the quality and look. This will mostly benefit the elderly and handicapped who cannot get to the bleachers to sit and also take away some of the dangers that we had before with the wash. These people will be able to park a wheelchair and/or bring a chair to sit in and not block the existing walkway. This will also take away the fall risk on the hills.”
• Backstop Blackout Screens ($1,100) — Shropshire said these screens “are installed on each field to keep fans from interfering with the pitcher. These screens have been up since we opened and are in need of replacement.”
• Playground Perimeter Borders ($2,100) — Shropshire said that “the existing borders on the playground are now worn out and are very small which does not hold the sand inside the playground when it rains. These new borders are taller and lock together with drive pins which are safer and more functional.”
• The Kiddie Playground Set ($15,000) — Shropshire said that The Kiddie Playground Set at the complex “was damaged during a hail storm and is in need of replacement for safety reasons and looks very bad. This piece of equipment was covered under insurance and we have received money to replace it.”
• North & South Tower Roofs ($45,000) — Shropshire said the roofs on the north and south towers were also damaged during a hail storm. He said the roofs were inspected by Grier Roofing and determined to be in need of replacement. He said the roofs are also covered by insurance and that the county has also received money to replace them.
• Bleacher Shades ($418,978) — Shropshire said that the bleacher shades were damaged during a snow/ice storm with some of them collapsing under the weight of the ice and snow despite complex personnel staying overnight to try and keep it off of them.
“We have decided that all the shades need to be replaced with a more dependable and better looking product,” Shropshire said. “The new shades that we have priced are all powder coated which will last longer and hope up to the weather much longer. They also have a buckled system and can be taken down if needed when ice/snow storms are predicted. They are larger in size to by-pass the existing footings of the shades there now and not have to remove them
“By doing this it will save about $28,000 and cover more of the bleachers,” he said. “I think these shades will be a great benefit to the complex and will improve the appearance also.”
Shropshire concluded his presentation by telling council that “these improvements will make our complex a safer and more efficient place to play baseball and softball. It will also cut down on some of the wear and tear of every day and weekend play.”
The improvements will be paid with Hospital Tax funds ($525,000), insurance funds ($199,199), and capital improvement funds ($100,000).
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.