Coach wants washroom upgrades at park

ABERFOYLE – Jason Saker wants washroom upgrades at the Old Morriston Ball Park.

Saker, head coach of the UTM (Up the Middle)Morriston girls softball team, spoke to Puslinch council on Sept. 18.

He described the team as one of the few under the “UTM Revolution” umbrella,  whose teams  compete in the Provincial Women’s Softball Association (PWSA).

Saker said he chose the Morriston park over other ball diamonds in Puslinch, “because I have a long history with this diamond, having coached an opposing team here for over a decade-and-a-half.

“I always liked the diamond – especially when it had working washrooms.”

He particularly likes the diamond’s lights and its proximity to Highway 401, since there are players from Orangeville and Woodstock playing on the UTM Morriston team.

“Having one team of U19 girls and hosting visiting teams from other areas … a porta-potty is a quick Band Aid approach and fix, and not necessarily ideal,” he said.

Saker told council he does not have a plan or estimated costs for the washroom upgrades, but he wants council to at least consider the project.

Noting “a minimum of two or three teams … operate out of that diamond,” Saker said if the park had a working washroom, Puslinch could possibly host more tournaments that could make use of all the ball facilities in the township.

Saker pledged to help out with painting to lower costs if council agreed to the project.

Councillor Jessica Goyda said, “I can tell you are very passionate about baseball … particularly at this site.”

She added, “I’m certainly not opposed to having public washrooms in our parks, but I would need more (financial) information before making a decision.”

Goyda noted the township is approaching its 2020 budget period and suggested it might be more appropriate at that time.

Councillor John Sepulis asked if this could be placed as a line item for consideration.

CAO Patrick Moyle said the budget looks at numerous assets for renewal through the capital budget, and, “This should be brought in with that context.”

Moyle said that would give the township time to look at the project from both capital and operating costs.

Saker suggested there might be an opportunity to partner with local businesses to provide funding.

Sepulis asked if there’s any chance the ball team could provide funds. Saker was uncertain, but offered to speak to local businesses.

Mayor James Seeley, whose home backs onto the property, said, “I’m proud you are bringing this quality of play to our township. I believe Morriston is our best diamond, but some rehabilitation is needed – such as fencing and washrooms.”

Seeley said he’s previously told council “we have an asset management plan, not an asset abandonment plan.”

He looked forward to seeing a proposal with costing, he said, adding, “We have a great community and I am sure there would be support for fundraisng for it.”