Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Youth Ballfield Follow Up - This Won't Be Easy!

A couple of weeks ago, we attended an American Legion ballgame out in Washington, Missouri. The field is located in a city park, right next to a huge outdoor bandstand/pavillion.

Ballparks are gathering places for people to have a good time. They're a community space.

They allow for both active (playing) and passive (watching) use. They're fun and offer lots of creative design possibilities.

The city is blessed with abundant parkland. Our parks are filled with a variety of both active and passive uses.

There are golf courses, hiking trails, boating lakes and fishing lakes, rugby fields, playgrounds, rose gardens, zoos, museums, and much more.

Building a new ballpark in a city park would be a change from whatever is currently on the site, unless we improve an existing field, but then you're running into the whole field permit/musical chairs problem.

Building the ballfield in a mature park setting allows for massive trees to be part of the site plan.

I've found an area of passive use inside Wilmore Park where 4 or 5 large trees would need to be removed to build the new field, but once built, the ballpark would be surrounded by 60 foot tall trees. The field would have a historic feel from day one.

Whether to install lights; dealing with noise and parking; managing drainage, covering maintenance costs, allowing signage, hours of use, and many other management issues arise.

The initial cost for a first class facility would run close to a million dollars. The end product could be a source of community pride. Or the effort could turn into a source of tremendous frustration.

It's hard for some people to understand why anyone would oppose such a concept. It's hard for others to consider permitting any changes to something they love exactly the way it is now.

The people who don't want change are sort of like the people who have a grandfathered field permit: their interest is already in place. Treading on it in any way is an offense to them. When it comes to changing the status quo, a lady from South County summed it up this way: "you're going against the establishment".

The only way for something like this to really happen is for the community at large to perceive the plan as a net improvement over our current situation.

While a million dollar improvement might seem a no-brainer to some, to others, the idea is a non-starter.


Anonymous said...

never should remove mature trees. Whether in the suburbs or in the cities, killing a living thing for human pursuits is wrong.

Rick Bonasch said...

To respond to the last post...

Wilmore Park has hundreds, if not easily over 1000 trees.

The park is a good 50-60 years old. Life expectancy on typical urban forest trees is in the 70-100 year range. Many of the trees in WIlmore Park are hitting the upper end of their life expectancy.

We live on a block with many mature, older trees. Some are dying off, being replaced with new trees. Replanting is an essential, sustainable strategy.

A plan for a ballpark in Wilmore Park could easily accommodate a mitigation plan to replace any trees removed through a variety of "green" offsets, including planting new trees at Wilmore Park or other strategic locations.

The quote, "killing a living thing for human pursuits" doesn't make much sense when you consider that every food product we eat comes from some living source, but, nonetheless, to anonymous, thanks for visiting and making a comment.

STL Rising is an open discussion forum on St. Louis issues and therefore does not delete anonymous comments.

Anonymous said...


I like the idea. Also agree with your thoughts about mitigation to replace in other areas.

Also strongly agree with your response to the comment about killing a living thing for human pursuits. Jeez, where would humans live if we didn't kill a few trees to build houses? In the trees themselves? How would we build roads? Zig zag around trees from coast to coast?

Where in the park is the projected site? I've missed the news about this project.

Bill Burnes

Rick Bonasch said...


Check out the area to the east of the playground and far back fishing pond.

The spot I'm thinking of is basically in between the park's two big lakes.

There's a hill, which, if graded, would allow for a bowl-shaped grandstand situated around the infield, facing northeast toward Jamieson.

Thanks for checking in!