by Robin Gee, city council beat editor
Those interested in the fate of a proposal by Newport Central Catholic (NCC) to make the Southgate ballfield their home field may have to wait a bit longer for a review and discussion.
Coach Jeff Martin from the school presented the idea to the Southgate city council last month. No decisions were made at the time, but some residents voiced concerns about traffic and other issues. School officials were asked to return with more details this month.
In a post on a Southgate Facebook page, Mayor Jim Hamberg announced he was pulling the item from the city council meeting agenda until the city can hold a live in-person meeting on the topic, which may not happen until after the first of the year.
In the meantime, he said city staff will work to include more details and frequently asked questions about the proposal in the next city newsletter due out before the holidays.
He noted that he had his own concerns about the project and has received much feedback from residents.
The proposal by Newport Central Catholic
Preliminary details about the proposal shared at the earlier city meeting outlined a plan to make the Southgate ballfield, located near the Community Center, into the home field for the school. In exchange for access to the site for practices and games, Newport Central Catholic would add several improvements to the field and would work in partnership with the Southgate community offering free clinics and other amenities to Southgate residents.
According to the initial proposal, the school would do the following:
- NCC would hold five annual baseball clinics for baseball or softball for area youth free of charge.
- NCC would improve the field and add baseball amenities such as batting cages, pitching mound, bullpen, dugouts, scoreboard, bleachers with concrete pads, foul poles and fencing in the outfield.
- NCC would maintain the field year-round and would provide funding for improvements
The school officials also listed nontangible benefits including attracting people to Southgate and making it a "destination." It would also promote the game of baseball in the community and provide fun family entertainment for residents.
The baseball schedule would be set four months in advance to avoid conflicts with the Community Center events.
Concerns from the community
Most of the concerns about the proposal involved increased traffic, parking issues and related safety concerns. Residents voiced worries about increased traffic during Community Center events and conflicts that could occur.
After hearing from some residents and concerns outlined by council members themselves, NCC officials were asked to add more detail to their proposal and to return this month for more discussion.
The city has a committee devoted to examination of the proposal that includes members of the city’s Park and Tree Board. Council member Joe Anderson, who is on the committee, said the proposal could offer the community an unprecedented opportunity and help to highlight the city. However, he acknowledged community concerns about traffic and said he wants to see more details.
Those details were to be shared at the November 4 council meeting. Yet, Hamberg has decided that a virtual meeting would not be the best option to have a full discussion. More information will be shared in the city’s newsletter and on the Southgate city website and Southgate city Facebook page.