Home run: City approves policy amendment for youth baseball usage of Lions Park

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
December 6th, 2023

The City is stepping up to the plate to help knock home several long-standing issues for youth baseball and adult slo-pitch.

An amendment proposed for the Sports Field User Policy — that identifies guidelines for the allocation and management of City sports fields — could see “fairer access” to the City’s sport fields, Lakeside and Lions parks after City council approved the policy amendment during a council meeting Dec. 5.

The policy changes address changing demographics, registration trends, user demand and field management in a fair and equitable manner by proposing an earlier start date (or later closure) to the fields, an increase in maximum hours of use at Lions Park — from 150 to 275 hours — and cancellations due to weather or poor field conditions would no longer carry a financial penalty.

On Sept. 23 the Nelson Baseball Association (NBA) and Nelson Mixed Slo-pitch (NMS) submitted a joint letter to the City and the Lion’s Club relating to the urgent need for changes to the policy.

“As the City is aware, the issue of a field hours usage ‘cap’ at Lions Park has been a long-lingering impediment to the Nelson Baseball Association as it significantly limits or negates its ability to deliver and grow its youth baseball programming for girls and boys aged 5-10,” the letter, signed by NBA president J. Stewart and NMS president Lauren Penfound, read.

Seven years ago City staff responded to a request to develop a Sport Field User Policy (SFUP) that outlined guidelines to help prioritize field use allocation.

“Staff engaged the Nelson Baseball Association on a number of occasions to discuss proposed changes to the policy,” noted City director of Corporate Services, Sarah Winton, in a report to City council on Dec. 5.

Stewart said the game had surpassed the limitations of SFUP and ongoing “band-aid” solutions.

“We need help to maintain and further develop the game in our community, and it starts with the kids and amending the SFUP and designating Lions Park as a hybrid ‘neighbourhood park and sports field’ for 16 weeks of the year,” he wrote.

Previously, Lions Park has been designated a neighbourhood park by the City, which limited the NBA to 150 hours to run all of its youth baseball programming for children in the under-10 age group.

The new ask from the NBA is for a hybrid model for the park — neighbourhood park and sport field — for 16 weeks of the year during the youth baseball season, from mid-April to late June, and early September through the Thanksgiving.

A hybrid designation eliminates the gray area that precludes youth baseball from fully utilizing Lions, said Stewart in the letter.

This post was syndicated from https://thenelsondaily.com
Categories: General