Dey Field at Liberty Park Stadium will most likely be getting an upgrade this fall after the Sedalia Park Board approved putting $150,000 toward the installation of infield turf during its meeting Thursday.
The five groups who utilize the stadium requested that turf be installed on the field several months ago, asking for the Parks Department to contribute half of the estimated $300,000 cost. While some in the community — and on the board — have been reluctant to change from traditional grass to turf, the decision was made Thursday to move forward.
“This will enable much better maintenance, eliminate some maintenance cost,” Parks Director Mark Hewett told the Democrat. “We’re getting fewer and fewer parents that want to help because it is late at night and weekends, and then rain-outs — we just hit a lot of rain-outs in there. This will help with the number of games that can be played. This is what they want and now it’s in their court so to speak to raise some funds to finish the project.”
The remaining $150,000 will be raised by the five groups. If money is raised in time, Hewett said they expect the turf to be installed this fall, ready for the 2016 baseball season. The groups, with help from stadium maintenance volunteer Jeff Mays, will select the “product that is best for this location,” and Hewett and the board will give final approval.
He also mentioned during the meeting that once turf is installed, “we’re going to fit a lot more games in there and the potential of a junior college having a team. … If some young men could stay in town and play junior college ball, that’s a big plus. … There’s a big possibility that if (Liberty Stadium) gets turf, that’s probably going to happen.”
The board also heard a presentation from Kevin Everett of the University of Missouri regarding a health impact assessment for a Sedalia community center. In partnership with the Blue Ribbon Committee, an assessment was conducted over the last 18 months to consider what a possible community center would add or take away from the city, and what health benefits or deficits it could create.
“There’s a list of criteria, they hit yes in every category,” Hewett told the Democrat. “There’s no negative impact to this health-wise, so it reaches all aspects and what we really want to focus on is doing it and doing it correctly, and trying to figure out if we do try to build this. how do we maximize getting people there, how do we get all income levels, areas of town, how do we get the people there. We’re trying to think everything out real good. At some point we want to engage the community in this process and get some feedback from them before we go forward.”
Everett noted that Sedalia surpasses the state and national averages for several health issues, so a community center would be an “asset” to the community to improve quality of life in the city.
“Sedalia has higher than the state average, higher than national average in obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some other factors like that,” he said. “That would suggest that putting forward an asset into the community like a community recreation center could have a positive impact to improve those.”
He also mentioned “the benefits don’t happen unless people use them, so participation will be huge in this.”
Hewett said he has preliminary plans for what the city can build right now, but they are “still looking at all options.” He plans to present a recommendation to the board in the next few months.
“We are still looking into (a community center),” Hewett told the Democrat. “I think we’re going to shift to a phase one, phase two, and I’m going to talk to the board about possible options we might have for a phase one of a community center, phase it in where we can always add a part.”