Baseball field in foul condition, Bandits claim

The baseball club has listed a number of issues with the park, including the prevalence of dog feces on the grounds.

The Cranbrook Bandits Baseball Club is concerned about the state of Confederation Park. In a letter to city council that was accepted at the April 28 meeting, the baseball club listed a number of issues with the park, including the prevalence of dog feces on the grounds.

“Currently, the condition of the facility is not up to par for hosting youth and American Legion baseball within our community,” said Paul Mrazek, president of the Bandits.

Mrazek listed four issues. The first is dog feces in the park as a result of some people using the field as an off-leash dog park and not cleaning up after their dog.

Mrazek suggested keeping the park locked during the off-season.

The second issue is graffiti and vandalism. He said there are examples of profane graffiti at the park and this year the P.A. system was damaged.

The third issue is weeds.

“They are overtaking the infield on all diamonds to the point you see more weeds than dirt,” Mrazek said, adding that it’s embarrassing to host tournaments that bring in other teams because of the state of the field. Currently the Mount Baker Secondary baseball team hosts one invitational tournament and Cranbrook Minor Baseball hosts two of the tournaments. The Bandits, which represent the highest level of youth baseball in the East Kootenay, could potentially host two other invitational tournaments.

The fourth issue is the uneven outfield.

“The outfield is not safe as there are many sharp dips in the outfield in which players running could be severely hurt chasing down a ball,” Mrazek said. “We cannot have an outfield that has six-inch drops in the terrain.”

Chris New, director of Leisure Services for the city, replied to Mrazek’s letter, addressing the concerns.

In terms of the dog feces, New said both Leisure Services and Public Works support a complete restriction of dogs on any of the city’s sporting fields.

“Staff will be presenting a request to council to restrict dogs at all sports fields, and to increase bylaw patrols of these facilities,” New wrote.

He said the graffiti is something they can’t do much about, other than clean it off or repaint over it. He also said fencing off is not included in the five-year capital plan for the city, and even then, Leisure Services staff would probably pursue other improvements at the field prior to that one.

In terms of the weeds, New said the city has not been able to chemically treat the field for the past few years, which is the reason for the infestation. The city has now received approval from the Ministry of Environment to use herbicide on the park.

New also noted that in addition to the $50,000 council approved two years ago, as matching funds towards enhancements at the park, additional funds have also been set aside in 2017 for the facility .

Coun. Gerry Warner said Cranbrook’s Heritage and Wellness committee is trying to get the city and School District 5 to discuss making the former Muriel Baxter School into an off-leash park for the time being.

“It’s got a central location, it’s completely fenced off and people are already using it for that purpose,” Warner said. “Maybe that would help a bit to keep people away from Confederation Park.”

Stetski encouraged everyone to take in at least one Bandits game over the season.

“It’s good baseball,” he said.