At the council meeting on October 9, Merrickville-Wolford Council directed staff to move ahead with the ball diamond expansion project requested by the Seaway Surge Baseball Club.
The request came from Seaway Surge at the end of the Summer, asking to expand the diamond by ten feet to allow their Minor Peewee (12) and Major Peewee (13) teams to use it next season.
Councillor Chuck MacInnis put forward the motion at the council meeting to go ahead with the expansion, despite recommendations from staff to push it off until the Spring. This was seen as problematic, because a wet Spring could derail the project, causing the field to be unusable for the older children in the 2019 season. “The arrival of the Seaway Surge Club brought financial benefit to the municipality through more visitors purchasing gas, restaurant meals and shopping,” said Chuck’s Notice of Motion. “Allowing the expansion of the ball diamond to accommodate the Peewee level team will only increase the financial benefit.”
Because of the time-sensitive nature of the project, council has decided to suspend the procurement by-law and allow the municipality to sole-source it. They have decided to engage a local business, D. McConnel Construction, which has offered to provide free labour if the municipality is willing to cover the cost of the stone dust for the project. This means that a project that had been estimated to cost around $2,000 would cost less than $1,000 for the municipality.
Upon recommendation from staff, council has also directed the CAO to speak with a landscape architect to ensure that the expansion is done to the proper standard in order to protect the municipality. “We need to understand the liabilities that we might be willing to accept down the road,” said Deputy Mayor Anne Barr. “When the work is done, and people are playing on the field, it will be the responsibility of the municipality to make sure it is safe.”
To ensure the work is done this Fall, council has allowed staff to use their discretion when it comes to outlining a proper design and giving the go-ahead for the work to be done. A cap of $3,000 has been placed on the project, which will be funded through the $26,750 fund that is in the recreation reserve, previously earmarked to reimburse residents for user fees in Smiths Falls. Smiths Falls no longer charges user fees for residents of Merrickville-Wolford to use their recreation facilities, therefore these funds are available to be used for other recreational projects that benefit the community, like this one.