Editorial: Let’s get some new ballfields

Published 9:10 am Tuesday, August 27, 2013

As the government leaders for the Albert Lea city and school district form their budgets for 2014, here is something for them to consider including: two ballfields.

The elementary-age population in Albert Lea is growing, which means more children are involved in youth sports. Every spring and early summer, there are demands for the fields, which create scheduling problems.

In fact, due to a scheduling conflict and due to so many children in tee-ball and coach-pitch baseball last spring, Albert Lea Community Baseball had to use backstops for four teams to practice on.

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We didn’t say ballfields. We said backstops. There were kindergartners, learning the game for the first time, running around infields made of crabgrass, dandelions and other weeds, while the other teams got to practice on true infield gravel and sand, with grassy outfields.

How do you think they did when they stepped on fields with infields made of sand and gravel to play their games? It was a different ballgame.

The two backstops they had to use that no doubt could be made into baseball fields in 2014 were at Lakeview Elementary School and at Shoreland Heights Park. They had no benches to sit on, no lines to run on, no bases and not even moorings for the bases. Coaches guessed at where to drop flat, orange, temporary bases.

For decades children have frolicked in the field at the bottom of the hill at Lakeview, and sometimes they play baseball. That lonely, old backstop is the only place that entire neighborhood has to play the national pastime, unless they want to hoof it north to Edgewater Park or south to the rickety sandlot at the backside of Hayek Park.

Longtime residents recall that Lakeview once had a ballfield at the opposite end of that open field. What happened? It served a summertime purpose that we would like to see return.

Shoreland Heights residents have a nice open space at Shoreland Heights Park, but it seems incomplete without a ballfield in front of that backstop, and these children, too, have to walk all the way over to Edgewater Park to play baseball at a decent facility.

If nothing else, give these two locations sand-and-gravel infields and benches. Let’s be prepared for the needs of local youth.