Bellefonte baseball parents upset by field conditions

CHRIS MORELLI/THE EXPRESS There are many concerns about the field at Governor’s Park, the new home of the Bellefonte Area High School baseball team.

By CHRIS MORELLI

cmorelli@lockhaven.com

BELLEFONTE — Parents of baseball players in the Bellefonte Area School District turned out in droves on Tuesday night for the school board meeting as concerns were raised over the conditions at Governor’s Park.

The team will play its home games at the park because their field was swallowed up by expansion as Rogers Stadium was renovated. However, the field at Governor’s Park has many issues, according to those who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Josh Brown of Bellefonte, a parent of a player, spoke first. He said that he has no issue with the playing surface at Governor’s Park. However, the park in general raises some concerns.

“The problem I have with Governor’s Park is the facility. There’s nowhere (to sit) to see the whole field,” Brown said. “The only opportunity to really do that is down the first base line toward right field and a small section near third base. Outside of that, you have the top of the hill where the pavilion is.”

The field will be used for the foreseeable future. Brown said that the board should give the facility at Governor’s Park the attention it needs.

“The football stadium and track facility are absolutely beautiful additions to our school, but now our focus should be given to our baseball program. We have a top-notch state championship program. With all due respect to the coaches, volunteers and families, it’s the players – past and present – who have set the standard,” Brown said.

Jeff Wetzler, president of the Bellefonte Baseball Booster Club, also spoke about the sub-par conditions at Governor’s Park.

“We’re very happy with the playing surface, basically what is between the white lines in fair play. It’s great. However, there are numerous things beyond those white lines that need addressed,” Wetzler said.

At the present time, the parking lots at Governor’s Park are filled with snow, Wetzler said.

“I went there (Tuesday). The borough has been dumping snow there all winter. There are numerous piles – I would say 10 to 15 feet high – solid pieces of ice out there. They’re going to have to melt. They’re sitting on top of the hill and it will run down to the playing surface,” Wetzler said.

Beyond the piles of snow, there are other issues, including holes in the dugout roofs, very few bleachers, lack of restrooms, no batting cages, no bullpen area, no scoreboard and no lighting. The park also lacks a concession stand and PA system.

“There are holes in the dugouts, there are major drainage issues. There are just numerous, numerous things that need to be addressed and need to be addressed fairly quickly … I was there (today) and there hasn’t been anything done,” Wetzler said.

Wetzler believes that Bellefonte’s student-athletes deserve better.

“There needs to be a serious look at not only the long-term plans of what needs to happen at Governor’s Park to give our student-athletes a great place to call home, a place to be proud of. But there is stuff that needs to be done immediately,” Wetzler said.

Later in the meeting, Aaron Barto, Director of Physical Plant, spoke about upgrades at Governor’s Park. Recently, he said, ELA Sport presented an estimate of costs involved in regard to improving the field. The estimate included everything from demolition to site restoration and amenities such as new dugouts, a press box and a new concession area – just to name a few. ELA Sport’s estimate came in at $664,673.65.

“They try to throw some numbers out there to give everyone an idea of what you could do and what’s the cost associated with it,” Barto said. “This is not based on any concept. It’s simply based on what could be done out there.”

Bellefonte is scheduled to open its home schedule on Tuesday, April 2.

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