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Municipal 2018
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Ball community disappointed with proposed diamond removal

by Mike Robinson

ABERFOYLE - Local resident Cameron Tuck is concerned with the proposed removal of baseball diamonds from the Aberfoyle Community Centre in the township’s recreation and parks master plan.

The Puslinch resident spoke to councillors on May 20 on how the proposal could affect the future of ball in the township.

“We have concerns with the master recreation plan as presented, which includes the removal of the Aberfoyle ball diamonds,” said Tuck.

He noted there was an understanding of some of the issues the township’s consultant has raised including the congested traffic flow in the area of the Optimist Recreation Centre and the ball diamond.

There were also concerns of the ball diamonds not being used enough.

Tuck said he’s heard that baseball is not a growing sport and that he is aware of costs involved with repairs and upgrades of the diamonds.

Tuck then spoke on the history of baseball in Puslinch.

“While I have not lived in Puslinch my whole life, I have known Puslinch for a long time,” Tuck stated. “Puslinch has a strong history of ball in the community.”

He said the Aberfoyle diamond was built with a lot of help from the community “and a lot of people feel concerned and a little disrespected with the proposal to have the diamond ripped out.”

Tuck said council is aware the senior men’s team represented Puslinch both provincially and nationally last year.

He added the ladies fastball team is always competitive and always represents the community in a professional manner.

He noted the old timers team in Aberfoyle is now joined by a similar team in Morriston ... with possibly a third team joining in 2016.

He added the grassroots programs aimed at local youth “keep ball an ongoing issue in Puslinch.”

Tuck said Aberfoyle Public School makes use of the local diamond because the school’s ball diamond is not well maintained by the board of education.

“If you’ve ever been out to one of our ball games ... you’ll see they are well attended by fans, family, friends children and I’ve even seen a few council members at the games.”

He agreed baseball is predominately booked from Monday to Thursday, noting, “There’s a reason for that: weekends  are usually booked for tournaments.

“The kids in our community, families and even businesses use the diamonds for friendly pickup games and events - they don’t always book them through the township.”

While that may be frowned upon, there is not always a necessity to do so, he said.

“The Aberfoyle ball diamond is in a great location and has surrounding amenities - greatly appreciated by the players and fans of all ages.”

Part of ball community’s disappointment is that members talked directly with the consultant for over an hour last fall.

“We didn’t ask for much and didn’t expect much, but we definitely didn’t expect to have one of our ball diamonds taken away.”

He said the ball community was also disappointed the document did not appear to take any of their suggestions into account.

Tuck said the ball community is ready to rally to cover some of the upcoming costs.

If traffic is a major concern, Tuck said that was why the gates were originally installed in the area.

“Close the gates on ball nights - it would address a lot of those concerns.”

He then provided a play-by-play of how ball diamonds throughout the community are used.

Tuck asked councillors how existing teams would be facilitated if one of the ball diamonds is removed.

“Ball registration is down - but it isn’t dead. Things happen in trends.”

He said “who knows maybe the Blue Jays will finally get their act together and win again and that will attract kids back to the sport.”

Tuck said “no one has a crystal ball as to the future of the sport.

“But I’d be very discouraged and disappointed if council accepts the removal of one of the athletic facilities which is used a considerable amount in Aberfoyle.”

He also believed leagues should pay for use of the diamonds, but random groups of kids should not.

“Please don’t ask ball teams to leave our community because of the removal of our ball diamond,” Tuck said.

Councillor Matthew Bulmer said he appreciated Tuck’s impassioned presentation.

He agreed youth pickup ball was an important part of his life and shouldn’t involve a fee. Tuck was also concerned the removal of Aberfoyle’s diamond would eliminate one of the township’s two diamonds which have night lighting.

Councillor Ken Roth pointed out nothing in the report would happen immediately.

“This is a 10-year plan.” He added “it is input from community members such as yourself (Tuck) which will influence how decisions will be made.”

Roth said there were two public meetings that were poorly attended.

“I, as a councillor, would not do anything major unless there were more public meetings,” he added.

Councillor Wayne Stokley agreed he has a vested interest in the local ball community.

“The master plan is a document we can use, or not use.” He added that getting rid of the diamond is a low priority in the plan.

“There is a lot of support to maintain the ball diamonds as they are. We would look forward to more comments from the public as we move down the line,” said Stokley.

Councillor Susan Fielding said she would want the master plan to be a living document “able to be adapted and relevant to the times in which decisions are made.”

She added the township currently does not have the finances to do some of the items included in the plan.

“It is all down the road and there would have to be extensive consultation before any decision was made.”

Mayor Dennis Lever said this is a long-term plan and noted one idea is to replace the diamond with a splash pad.

“Personally, I can’t imagine putting a splash pad there when Guelph is considering one six kilometres away ... it doesn’t seem to make any sense spending that kind of money.”

He added Puslinch seems to have more ball diamonds than communities of similar size. However, he  agreed more public input is needed before any decisions are made.

June 5, 2015


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