The Nelson Baseball Association stepped up to the plate at Tuesday’s Nelson city council meeting in hopes of seeing work start on upgrades to the baseball diamond at Lions Park, but the association left without an answer on whether work would begin this fall.
The council meeting became heated after councillor Deb Kozak introduced a recommendation that the plan for Lions Park be sent to the recreation portfolio for review and recommendation.
Kozak said council had only received the plan from the association on October 6 and felt there was not adequate time to review it.
“Our parks and our recreational sports facilities deserve proper planning,” said Kozak. “I know we do have the time, and I do sympathize with them.”
Councillor Kim Charlesworth agreed with Kozak’s recommendation, but said she would like to see the plan delayed for more than just a month.
“During our budget process we had several parks proposals that we would have liked to consider,” said Charlesworth. “We had a fair bit of discussion around the budget and we had to look at which parks to put forward.”
Charlesworth said council decided to finish the parks that had been started last year.
“I think that this is the kind of thing that needs to be considered under the recreation planning process. I think we should see what comes out of the planning process and see if this is the best place for the facility and the best use of that park.”
Councillors Bob Adams and Robin Cherbo, and Mayor John Dooley all emphasized the fact that the association is hoping to begin work on the upgrades this fall.
Kozak highlighted that the upgrades include the construction of a new concession and storage building, but the plan doesn’t show where the buildings would be built.
Councillor Donna Macdonald also supported Kozak’s recommendation, echoing her concerns about council receiving the plan last week.
“It takes several years for us to see what facilities we need and what facilities we can use,” said Macdonald. “It’s not good politics and it’s not good governance for us to move on decisions because of urgency. This is a pretty significant change for the park, and if we are going to build a new baseball facility we need to make sure we are going to build it in the right place.”
After hearing Macdonald, Kozak and Charlesworth’s comments, Dooley spoke out against the recommendation.
“Lions have been great stewards of this park,” said Dooley. “I believe we should move on this because these people need to get going on this so that they can have baseball in the fall. I think this is a tactic that will slow this down.”
Dooley said he sat on the recreation commission and the process of reviewing the park may take a lot longer than a few months.
“I am fully behind this project. It should happen for the greater good of this community,” said Dooley. “Referring it to the rec commission could defer this project years not months.”
The debate around the plan became so heated between Dooley and Kozak that they were speaking over each other and Dooley eventually told Kozak that he let her speak and asked that he have his turn.
Dooley asked that he, Kozak, and councillor Margaret Stacey (who was not at the council meeting) meet this week to discuss the plan.
Kozak said they won’t have the discussion until Stacey has returned.
“I’m not willing to have this rushed along,” said Charlesworth. “It needs to wait until councillor Stacey is back and can engage in it.”
Kozak’s recommendation was passed and the plan will be referred to the recreation portfolio.