By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
A new championship-caliber field at Ingle Park is set to open this spring, along with several other upgrades and additions across the Cullman City Parks and Recreation system.
The new field construction, which includes stadium-style wraparound seating that should hold more than 500 people, will be large enough to accommodate both college baseball and softball games. Cullman Parks and Recreation spokesperson Waid Harbison said the new 300-foot field will eventually serve as the championship site for the dozens of tournaments hosted at Heritage Park each year.
The department most recently hosted some Division-1 tournaments, and Harbison said he hopes the new field will help attract more high profile events in the future.
“It’s going to be a really nice facility for championship games, and things are going really well,” he said. “Because of all the events we have, with so many tournaments a year, it’ll be more of a college-style baseball field with seating all the way around. We’ll be able to have tournament championships and youth league championships, and it’ll really give it, almost, a small college feel.”
The total field project is estimated to cost approximately $100,000, though the department received a $30,000 grant from the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) to help with construction. A new park playground is also in the works at the championship field, though the department is still raising funds to move ahead.
The department is also rebuilding and expanding the bathroom facilities at Ingle Park to accommodate the new field. That project is expected to be finished in the coming months.
Some new outdoor bathroom and changing facilities are also being built at the Cullman Wellness and Aquatics Center, which Harbison said should help the traffic flow at the center as they prepare for summer. That project is a $85,290 bid by Powe General Contracting.
“I think that’ll be a really good thing, because those spaces are shared, especially in the summer,” Harbison said. “There can be a lot of people coming through there, and we’re trying to make the locker rooms more for fitness. So, now we’ll have the locker rooms out back for people in the summer.”
With so many facilities falling under the department, Harbison said the parks board met in late 2013 to develop a capital projects plan to make some long-overdue upgrades across the system.
“We’re working on a couple of those this year because the park board talked about prioritizing those things,” he said. “The biggest thing this year is definitely the completion of the baseball complex at Ingle Park.”
Re-roofing projects at the Donald E. Green Senior Center and Gymnastics/Cheer Academy are also in the works, which officials say is a critical need. The city has also approved a $41,204 bid to re-roof and re-side the parks department maintenance building with Striker’s Metal Roofing and Vinyl Siding
“We have buckets just about everywhere [at the cheer academy and senior center] to catch leaks, so that’s a big one that’s been needed,” Harbison said.
Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 134.