Cancellations due to field conditions could be a thing of the past for Neligh ball programs.
The Neligh City Council approved a resolution Wednesday to apply for a grant to assist with a $30,000 baseball field improvement plan to put aglime on the north field, which allows water to pass through it and keep the fields useable.
Economic Development Director Greg Ptacek said the matching grant is through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and administered by the National Park Service. Eligible projects include baseball fields, soccer fields, playgrounds, swimming pools, picnic areas, park acquisition and development and shelter houses.
Neligh is proposing the Riverside Ball Diamond Improvement Project with the northern most ball diamond being replaced with gravel and Red Ball Diamond Aggregate (RBDA) to ensure the field is better weatherized to minimize the impact of rain. Specifications show the RBDA is 100 percent crushed red dolomitic limestone.
At the September 8 Neligh Park Board meeting, Diann Arehart stated that the Quad County baseball tournament for 12- and 14-and-under teams will not remain in Neligh unless the fields are weatherized and able to be used the entire time. She said the 7- to 10-day tournament brings visitors and revenue to numerous Neligh businesses.
Last fall, aglime was introduced on the south field, and Arehart said she did not believe more than one game was delayed or moved all summer due to field conditions. The north field, which is included in the grant application, had water standing numerous times resulting in game delays, rescheduling and relocating to other towns.
The application states that project would potentially lessen the impact of several problems for the community, including childhood obesity, activities for youth and economic hardships.
"Youth would be offered increased opportunities, making Neligh a more attractive community to live and raise a family. In a community with limited large events, youth tournaments area major economic stimulant," the application said.
According to the application, in the next few years the City of Neligh Park Board and Ball Booster Club will repave the legion field’s ball diamond with RBDA.
The estimated cost of the entire project is $30,663 with the City of Neligh paying $15,639 and the federal LWCF assisting with the remaining $15,024. The raw material for the project is $18,044, labor is $3,081.60 and dirt work is $6,750. An additional 10 percent in contingencies brings the total to $30,663.
Council member Ted Hughes asked if the funding comes from the state or federal level. Ptacek said the funds are federal, but the state manages the dispersal. When asked about the timeline, City Clerk Dana Klabenes said first-round approval to grants will be announced in January with second-round approval in February. She said, if approved, the project would be completed by the start of the summer ball season.
Klabenes said the four grants were given out last year by the fund, which received 20 applications. Ptacek said $350,000 is available in grants, and Neligh’s application will probably be a smaller project as compared to most applications.
Hughes made a motion to approve the resolution, and Dale Wilkinson seconded. The motion carried 4-0.