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The Union Leader (Manchester, NH)
BEDFORD — A local baseball field has been closed because of safety concerns and will likely not reopen until next year.
Riley Field, which is used by the school district and the town, needs nearly $150,000 in work, according to officials. "It is tricky because there are limited resources. There is a huge amount of demand for all fields," Superintendent Chip McGee told the school board this week.
Town Manager Rick Sawyer said there have been complaints and concerns with the condition of Riley Field, located next to Bedford High School and Lurgio Middle School. Sawyer said he has prohibited sporting activities at the field until repairs can be made to the playing surface and the facility's fencing.
Town officials have agreed to spend $95,000 in capital improvement reserves to pay for a portion of the repairs, however they are asking the school district to contribute the remaining $50,000.
"It is our hope to complete this work as soon as possible once we have your commitment, but it will likely mean not having any activities on the field until the spring of 2019," Sawyer said in a memo to the superintendent.
The field is primarily used in the spring by the middle school freshmen and junior varsity baseball teams. In the summer it is where the high school marching band practices and in the fall it is used for middle school field hockey, middle and high school gym classes, eighth-grade Derby Day and other activities.
"Riley Field is a community asset," said Sawyer, often used in the evening by town groups and recreational teams.
The field has been a concern for at least eight years, according to school officials. "This is just an unfortunate safety concern that has come up," said McGee. Included in the $150,000 repair estimate are new sod for the infield, loam, backstop, sand fill, grading, outfield fence, professional mound clay, warning track mix material and a stormwater pollution prevention plan to ensure the problem does not return.
"There will be no baseball for the middle-schoolers on that field for junior-varsity, so we have to double-up other fields," said McGee, adding that will be necessary throughout the summer and fall as well.McGee is hopeful that the field will reopen in the spring of 2019. As the field repairs are an important project, he said he's recommending the school district pay for a portion of the work.
School officials will look for items in the 2019 budget that can be eliminated or reduced to come up with the $50,000 needed, McGee said. The school board is expected to vote on the matter at its next meeting.
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