|All that remains of Gardner Field are the remains of the bleachers that once held hundreds of avid baseball fans. These old worn out metal structures will soon be replaced with new shiny seats that once again will attract American Legion fans.|
With the American Legion baseball season fast approaching, Gardner Field in Helper is quickly getting a new look.
With the $31,000 the Carbon County Commission approved after the Restaurant Tax Board recommended acceptance of the Helper City proposal for the money, the field, which has seen decades of fine play contested on it, is getting a face lift in the bleacher area.
As of the end of last week the bleacher seats had been removed in front of the announcers box and volunteers and Helper City crews were getting ready to start installing the new seating.
"We just want to thank Helper for its assistance in getting this all done," said Jeff Cisneros at the Helper City Council meeting last week.
Officials of the city also publicly thanked Cisneros and Jeff Jewkes, who both have labored long and hard on restoring this field in the last few years, for the fine work they have done and their dedication in going after money to improve the field.
"We just want to thank these young men in return for their work on this field," said Mayor Joe Bonacci. "This money is Helper City's and everything we spend has to go through the city coffers, but these young men deserve the credit for getting the money for the city."
Jewkes and Cisneros said that the money would take care of the restoration of much of the bleacher area, but inquired about a grant that was pending concerning badly needed improved rest room facilities at the park.
"We didn't get it this time," said Helper City Councilman Kirk Mascaro. "There was about $1.2 million in the fund we applied to and they had $6 million in applications for the money. Our application didn't meet the criteria at this time, but we are going to keep applying and look at other avenues as well."
Jewkes brought up the fact that they were also applying for a historical grant to possibly redo the third base side of the field.
One of the concerns that emerged at the meeting was the unauthorized use of the field, particularly for activities that destroy the integrity of the ball park.
"We've spent $50,000 renovating this field and when some of these thing destroy what we have done, it's tough to see," said Cisneros. "We don't mind if the field is used for what it is intended for (baseball) or is used in a responsible manner for other sports, but unsupervised use usually results in problems."
Jewkes and Cisneros both brought up concerns about unsupervised softball, where people move the bases and individuals riding bikes on the field.
"All we ask is that people are responsible and accountable for what they do," says Cisneros.
The mayor suggested that the field be set up on a reserved use only and that anyone who want to use it must contact the city first.
In direct relation to the American Legion team that plays on the field each year, the men also had a another request that they asked the council to consider.
"One of our biggest problems during the season is travel," said Cisneros. "We play in conjunction with the Salt Lake Valley League and most of our away games are in the Salt Lake vicinity. We generally have to go up there about eight times during the regular season to play. We pay the players to drive themselves, so we are spending about $8000 a year on travel. It is very expensive."
Cisneros told the council that he had found a used bus that Smith Transit has for sale and the company would sell it to the team for $2000.
"We were wondering if there was any way you could help us with this and possibly work the insurance through the city as well?" he asked the council.
"Because of your position as a private team we can't get into purchasing or help you to purchase a bus," the mayor told the two. "I can however point you to some ideas on funding sources. As for the insurance we have the same problem. By law we can't do that."
Gardner Field will be ready by the time the season starts later this month.