Bringing back ByersPublished 12:20pm Friday, March 15, 2013
Byers Field is getting a new lease on life – at least for the next six months.
The city council approved a half-year lease with the owners of the field at the March 4 council meeting for a fee of $1.
Parks and recreation director Sonny Wilson said without Byers Field, there simply weren’t enough fields for everyone to share.
“We have 43 teams in baseball and softball this year,” Wilson said. “We didn’t have enough fields for everyone to play and practice on. We needed some more fields.”
Wilson said that in talking to several other people, the idea of bringing back Byers Field kept popping back up. Wilson said councilman Billy Ray Wall had the idea to try and lease the field.
“I called the owners and they said they were willing to lease it to us for six months for $1,” Wilson said.
The cleanup began the very next day. The plan is to ready the fields for practice use only – once cleanup is complete, Byers field will add another four useable fields to Parks and Recreation’s arsenal.
Since the lease is temporary, Wilson said they haven’t invested a large amount of money into cleaning the grounds.
The temporary lease, however, hasn’t stopped city departments from coming to the aid of parks and rec to help improve the four fields in any way they can.
“The thing I have been most proud of and that means the most to me is to see every department in the city helping out,” Wilson said. “I didn’t even have to call them. They knew there was a need, and they knew it was for the kids. This just shows we care about our city and want to clean things up and make it nicer for everybody.”
Wilson said the fire department has helped burn brush and tall grass, while the street department has worked to fix the roads between the fields. The light department and carpentry shop have assisted in fixing up the bathrooms on site.
Property maintenance helped bush hog some areas, Wilson said, and brush trucks from the landfill came to pick up cleared debris.
The project has generated a lot of attention, Wilson said, as many local citizens have memories of the historic playing fields.
“It is amazing how a project so small can get so many people excited,” Wilson said.
“Byers Field use to be the place to be – there were softball tournaments out here every weekend. A lot of people have fond memories.”
Wilson said the field once touted grandstands and was home to a minor league baseball team called The Millers. While it would take quite a bit of work to return it to that state, Wilson said they have made a lot of progress in the past week.
“We are still working to get all the grass out of the infields and get them cut out,” Wilson said. “A lot of teams are already practicing there. We got it last Tuesday, and by Wednesday there were already people practicing. They are just excited to have somewhere to play.”
In addition to providing new fields for teams to use, Wilson said cleaning up the park has benefited that entire area of town.
“You wouldn’t believe the number of people who live on this side of town that have stopped to thank us for cleaning it up,” Wilson said. “It makes this side of town look a whole lot better.”