The Quinte West Baseball Association will have to wait another week to see if the City will go ahead and purchase new lights for the Bayshore Field during 2017 budget talks.
Monday night, about 30 members from the association, including players from the Quinte Royals, filled council chambers with a handful expressing why they feel the lights estimated to cost $240,000 should be installed for the 2017 season. The lights were one of three projects (Trenton Town Hall and waterfront trail expansion) recently denied funding through the Canada 150 grant. The Batawa Community Centre kitchen was also denied through the Ontario 150 Fund. In the 2017 budget, council had approved allocating $730,000 of city reserves for the four projects (half of the government funding). It was all done under the premise the City would only proceed if the grants were approved.
After the field lights project was denied the grant there has been uncertainty among the baseball world as to whether council will make the purchase for this season.
Chris Lisle, president of the QWBA explained to council there are 325 baseball players in the U5 to 19 leagues. He said including visiting teams there are 2,400 families who come to the Trenton field during the season and if the lights aren’t purchased that could all change.
In an earlier interview with Quinte News, Lisle said not having lights has been a safety concern and scheduling nightmare due to inclement weather. He echoed those concerns to council Monday night.
Lisle said when the field was built almost two years ago they were told the lights would be ready for this coming season. “The thought of deferring it to the 2018 season would cripple us,” said Lisle…”Let there be light.”
Bill Flemming, a fellow QWBA member told council they could lose their $400 team bond with the Eastern Ontario Baseball Association. He said they could have to pay travel costs for the visiting team if a game or tournament is rained out and they can’t continue that night or weekend.
Eleven-year-old Brianna Demille also took to the podium pointing to how the last time she was before the horseshoe, council was awarding her for being selected to throw a pitch at Toronto’s Rogers Centre.
“When I was here you told me to keep following my dreams,” recalled Demille telling council what it meant for her to play under the big lights. “It lights you up and I hope you will light up our field.”
Councillor Keith Reid suggested the group take on fundraising and apply for Trillium and Parrott Foundation grants. Lisle said they could look at grants however they have already taken on fundraising initiatives for batting cages and scoreboards.
Mayor Jim Harrison informed the crowd that ‘nothing has been eliminated from the budget.’
When asked about his thoughts on the group’s presentation and if it will have any weight during Monday’s budget talks, Harrison said they gave a good delegation.
Don Kuntze said there is support to complete the project but the City just ‘needs to make it happen.’ He said he has some ideas that he has been throwing around with Director of Corporate and Financial Services David Clazie.
“We will be putting up the lights, but we need to decide when we can make it happen,” said Kuntze.