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Sunday News (Lancaster, Pennsylvania)
Rochelle A. Shenk

With the April 26 opening day a little over a month away, Manheim Central Little League and borough officials have made the difficult decision to close Hollinger Field at Mill and Oak streets.

The field, which is next to Chiques Creek, sustained damage from flooding in October 2013 and severe damage from Tropical Storm Lee floodwaters in September 2011.

Borough manager Mark Stivers reported to council on March 11 that the field would require $8,000 to $10,000 in repairs to make it playable.

Manheim Central Little League president Harry Urban said in an email on Thursday that the organization's board has had numerous discussions within the organization and with the parents of league players.

He said the group has decided that it is not in the league's best interest to continue to spend thousands of dollars annually to repair damage caused by flooding.

"As one of the financial sponsors of the field when it was built, I am sorry to see the field shut down," Urban said.

The group, which currently serves 300 youth in the Manheim area, was organized in 2005 to provide a safe, well-maintained and fun environment for youth baseball in the community.

Hollinger Field was one of the main fields used by the organization. A major project to refurbish the field was completed in late summer 2008.

Funded by the Little League group, the nearly $50,000 project included relocating the field on the lot - home plate had previously been along the creek - installing a grass infield, dugouts, scoreboards, a press box, grandstands and an outfield fence.

The fencing and the playing surface had to be replaced after Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, and flooding in October 2013 damaged both areas again.

Hollinger Field was used exclusively for Little League games. Urban said that it was one of the organization's main fields. It was used Monday through Friday and all day on Saturday.

Urban and Stivers have been working closely to find alternate locations for games. Possibilities include fields in Rapho and Penn townships.

Stivers said that the fencing, bleachers and scoreboard will be removed from Hollinger Field and relocated to another field. He pointed out that although the field will not be used as a playing field, it could ultimately play a role in the effort to mitigate flooding in the borough.

And, unfortunately, Hollinger Field is not the only field that the Little League will be losing.

The organization has exclusive use of Legion Field at Colebrook and Charlotte streets. Use of that field will be discontinued after this season to make way for the new emergency services campus that will house the Manheim police headquarters and the Northwest EMS facility.

"Field space is very limited for our program," Urban said. "We are carefully trying to schedule games and practices this year as we are not only losing Hollinger Field, but we will be losing the Legion Field after this season.

"Legion Field is also heavily used six days a week for our players," Urban said. "I'm confident that we'll be able to work with the borough to help alleviate the shortage of playing fields."

The borough also is losing one of two ballfields at Logan Park because it, too, has repeatedly been damaged by flooding.

Stivers said that, like Hollinger Field, the Logan Park field might play a role in the flood mitigation efforts.

Faced with the loss of three playing fields, the borough is seeking alternative locations.

One possibility could be a 4.3-acre site at the end of North Hazel Street that is bounded by Hazel, Linden and Shelburne streets. The site had been used as a municipal dump in the 1970s and '80s.

When the dump was closed, it was covered with soil to cap it. Stivers said that, usually, closed dumps are covered with a clay barrier to prevent rainwater from leaching in and polluting the groundwater.

He said that the state Department of Environmental Protection is aware of the site and is monitoring wells there to make sure that the soil cap is working properly.

The property owner had proposed several plans for residential uses, but the property cannot be built on.

It might be able to be used, however, for playing fields. Stivers said that he is in discussions with DEP about the issue.


March 17, 2014




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