Pocopson mulls park sports improvements

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Local sports organizations offer renovations in exchange for use

By Kelli Siehl, Staff Writer, the Times

PocopsonSoccerNet

A torn soccer net at Pocopson Park. Township officials are weighing proposals for repairs and upgrades to the park’s soccer field and baseball field in exchange for use rights by local sports organizations.

POCOPSON — The township’s Board of Supervisors considered the issue of proposed capital improvements to the Pocopson Park baseball and soccer fields  — and who should pay for them — during its recent meeting.

Officials received two letters from area sports associations offering to pay for upgrades to the fields in return for usage and playing time.

The first proposal came via the township Public Works Director, Mark Knightly. Knightly was not in attendance but provided a written report stating that a local group proposed converting the park’s existing ball field into a 46/60, 50/70 regulation field.The field is currently a 46/60 field with a grass infield. The grass infield is currently slated to be removed and replaced with a Diamond Tex clay infield, to reduce maintenance and make the field more flexible in terms of use.

Township Secretary Susan Simone said the local organization proposed paying for the improvements with the township public works department completing the actual work.

The numbers 46/60 and 50/70 refer to the pitching mound and base path distances measured in feet. 50/70 is a relatively new intermediate division in youth baseball — the Unionville Recreation Association currently plays under those rules for its Major Division and Little League has been expanding its use of the larger dimensions. Typically, the intermediate field is used by 11 and 12 year olds to help the players transition to regulation-sized fields, as used in senior youth baseball and middle and high school baseball. Since some players find it difficult to transition to the bigger 60/90 field, 50/70 helps to ease them into it. Traditional youth dimensions are a 46-foot pitching mound and 60 foot base paths.

Several questions arose, however, and since Knightly was not present to offer answers, officials agreed to wait before making a decision on the matter.

Supervisor Ricki Stumpo said a second proposal was received from “a soccer dad offering to replace nets and upgrade soccer goals at the park in exchange for soccer time this summer.” Stumpo said she’s received reports from local groups that the soccer fields are in dire need of repairs.

Supervisors Vice-Chair Georgia Brutscher told officials she believes the township should replace the equipment instead of entering into “private bartering” to keep the facilities up to date. Brutscher asked that the township Parks, Recreation and Trails (PRT) committee look into the matter.

PRT chair Mike McGann, (McGann, a township resident who is Editor/Publisher of The Times) said the committee would take up the issue at its next meeting in August, but said he shared Brutscher’s concerns.

“Obviously, we have to look at anything that could save taxpayer money,” he said. “But I’m a little leery of locking out township residents potentially from use of the park facilities. As we already had plans to tackle some of the work — specifically the baseball field — I’m unsure whether this brings a lot of value. We also have to consider that the soccer field is also used for lacrosse and rugby and that any changes, upgrades or additions don’t detract from those uses.”

In other news, Supervisors reported that the township building needs a new heating and cooling system. The township received an estimate of $9,600 for a new heat pump. Supervisors Chair Steve Conary said he has “difficulty approving that much money for a building upgrade we hope won’t be used much longer.”

Currently, the township building has two separate systems, one of which has to be replaced. Officials are considering the upgrade to one dual-zoned system. Officials are planning a future move of township offices to the Barnard House if and when renovations are approved and completed.

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