By Megan Hopps
Sun Press Newspapers
The Dayton City Council heard a presentation from Champlin Park Baseball Association Board Member Marty Carr who proposed changes to the McNeil Park baseball fields.
The project proposal involves upgrades to the infield, adding a safety cap, providing maintenance equipment as well as a new pitching mat, bases, base anchors and tarps. The proposal would cost roughly $10,000 and would be fully funded by CPBA. Carr simply requested that the Dayton Public Works department donate some of their time to assist with the installation of the sod and new equipment.
“The ballfield at McNeil Park is a fantastic baseball setting,” Carr said. “So our proposal for McNeil Park in Dayton is to fully utilize that park both for tournaments on weekends and five days a week for games.”
CPBA was established in 1998 and is recognized as a 501c3 organization. The Champlin Park Baseball Association has worked on other projects in the community such as field and scoreboard improvements in Champlin city parks and ballfields.
“In addition to donating funds for administering summer baseball program, CPBA is committed to working with and supporting strategic partners and other community organizations,” Carr said. “This includes donations to groups such as the Champlin Park baseball, football, the swim club, weight room, scouts, a couple different veterans organizations, families in need, the fire department, Hope4Youth for homeless District 11 kids and many other organizations. We support our communities that we’re involved in.”
Carr said the primary focus of the group is lighting the ballfields.
“Normally, this is the most expensive and arduous task to complete and what’s really unique about Dayton’s historic McNeil Park is that it’s already lit,” he said. “The largest hassle is already taken care of there.”
The organization has raised $600,000 in the past three years and has been involved in various community park improvement projects like those at Reynolds and Andrews Parks in Champlin and field improvements at Champlin Park High School.
“All of these projects are all done through partnerships with communities and other organizations,” he said.
Carr said the project involves designing the field with middle school aged baseball players in mind.
“For baseball to be played, we desire to have a grass infield,” he said. “From a safety perspective, grass is recommended.”
The proposed design also involves upgrades to the dugouts and backstops. Some minor drainage and irrigation improvements will be addressed as well as maintenance type equipment, scoreboard and infield improvements, upgrades to the batting cages, bull pin mounds and other equipment that could be used at a baseball park. Again, the idea is for the park to be used for tournaments and fundraising events.
Carr said one concern he had heard was in regards to softball.
“We’ll work with them to accommodate what their needs are at the park,” he said “We would never want to slight anyone that is using the park currently.”
Phase one of the project would involve grassing the infield and trimming back the infield approximately 10 to 12 feet. In addition to the field improvements, a safety cap would need to be installed to protect viewers from foul balls.
Carr said that the Champlin Dayton Athletic Association has seen the proposal and blessed the project. He reminded the council that CPBA is not asking for any financial support from the city, but he asked if the council would be willing to work with city staff to create a master plan for the park as to have a document to reference when making future upgrades and improvements. Mayor Tim McNeil expressed interest in looking into concession area improvements in the future. Carr said he was sure the organization would be eager to partner with the city to continue to improve the park.
“We want to see the sport of baseball to thrive and grow,” he said.
Contact Megan Hopps at [email protected]