|The Highland Hills Park Baseball field could get a big makeover with a partnership between the city of Fort Thomas and Highlands. FTM file.|
The City of Fort Thomas and Fort Thomas Independent Schools are working on an agreement that will upgrade its baseball facility, which is currently owned by the city. The project will consider improvements to the baseball field in Highland Hills Park. A new lease agreement proposed could account for various improvements that would provide for an enhanced playing field, viewing area, accessibility, and integration into the park.
Because Highlands High School is landlocked with limited space to expand, some of its athletics facilities, including track, soccer, tennis and baseball are off campus on city-owned land.
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A proposal has been presented to the city that describes improvements that need to be made to the field at Highland Hills Park in order to accommodate the HHS baseball program. The Fort Thomas Board of Education has agreed to assist in the proposed improvements. The estimated cost of the improvements, which will be underwritten by the city, is $150,000.
But it's not a done deal yet. The city has given it's initial approval, but it will still require the school board's approval.
"Over the last eight years we have made major improvements to the playing surface on the baseball field at Highland Park. Within those eight years we have added a lot of additional equipment we feel is necessary for our student-athletes. While we have made some small improvements to the facilities, the timing seemed to be right to make a few major improvements," said Baioni.
"The days of high school and summer baseball teams carrying 13 kids on a roster are over. Our dugouts have kids and coaches spilling out of them. Creating more storage will help clean up the area, as well. The City does such a great job of maintaining our parks. We truly are blessed in that regard. The collaboration between the City of Fort Thomas and Fort Thomas Independent Schools to make much needed upgrades to the baseball field at Highland Park shows a tremendous level of commitment from all. While the high school uses the field in the spring there are hundreds of summer and fall baseball games played by teams from FortThomas and all over Greater Cincinnati. We're extremely excited and blessed to have such a commitment from all involved."
This is not the first time the schools and the city have collaborated. Winkler Park, which is owned by the city and sits adjacent to Woodfill Elementary School was a successful collaboration between both parties. Winkler Park is home to the Highlands softball program and was once considered one of the poorest facilities in Northern Kentucky.
With the infusion of cash, hard work and vision of the schools, parents and the city it's now one of the best.
"This represents another opportunity for the city and school district to collaborate to make substantial improvements that are beneficial to the entire community. We have shared in this successful collaborative effort in the past, most recently with the renovation of Winkler Field. The FTISD has proven to be great partner in providing recreational opportunities for their students and all of our residents," said Ron Dill, Fort Thomas City Administrative Officer.
The lease agreement will include the following improvements, terms and conditions:
- Grading, a storm sewer, utilities, field drainage, fencing, and other ancillary improvements as indicated on the site plan. All improvements shall be and remain the property of the city, with the exception of the scoreboard, which will remain the property of the Board.
- The city will continue to control and coordinate the scheduled use of the baseball field and Highland Hills Park for any and all activities, recognizing a priority status for use of the HHS baseball team during their season (excluding unforeseen extenuating circumstances).
- The city's General Services Director and the Board's Athletic Director will meet at least annually for the purpose of coordinating program scheduling as it relates to the use of of the baseball field at Highland Hills Park.
- The city will be responsible for ordinary and normal maintenance and repair of the Highland Hills Park baseball field, including, but not limited to: mowing grass, reseeding, raking the infield, etc, as necessary. Repair, maintenance, and replacement of improvements used primarily in conjunction with the HHS baseball team shall be the responsibility of the Board. The Board will provide the required preparation of the baseball field for all scheduled games, including marking of baselines.
- The lease will be in effect for a period of one year and will automatically renew annually for fourteen successive years unless the Board gives ninety days notice of its intent to cancel. The grand total of lease payments will be $175,000.
- In order for the Board to raise revenue, the city will permit the Board to contract with advertisers to install signage, but signage will only be permitted to be attached to the baseball field's outfield fence for a total combined distance of 100 feet, and may only be displayed for fourteen days prior to the first regular season home game of the HHS baseball team through seven days after the last regular season home game or last post-season tournament game if such games are conducted at the baseball field.
Superintendent Gene Kirchner says, "The proposed improvements to the baseball complex at Highland Park represent another great opportunity for the school district to partner with the City of Fort Thomas for the benefit or our students and the entire community. Winkler Field is a shining example of what can be accomplished when we work together. We hope that Highland Park will eventually be on par with that facility."
|site plan for baseball field at Highland Hills Park|
FTM will have more to add to this story when the lease is signed and there is a set date for improvements to begin. This proposal still needs to be approved by the Board at the next meeting.