Nelson’s mayor hopes a new policy settles any future conflicts for park time between user groups, the city and community members at Lions Park.
An amendment to the Sports Field User Policy, was passed by city council on March 19, incorporates Lions Park, sets down booking priorities and stipulates how much time can be reserved at the Uphill location.
The policy was changed following a January meeting with user groups, and a February sit down that focused on the neighbourhood within a 60-metre radius of Lions Park.
“It was an opportunity to get user groups together along with the broader community and have a discussion and come up with a policy that made sense for everybody,” said Mayor Deb Kozak.
“I’m really pleased with what staff proposed and that council accepted it. I think it makes it clearer for everybody and what the purpose of parks are and how we share them.”
The group that prompted the changed policy, however, remains unsatisfied.
Last June a request for 200 hours of playtime at the Lions Park ballpark by Nelson Baseball, which was an increase over the 100 hours previously agreed to in a memorandum of understanding, was denied by city council.
That prompted work on the new policy, which allows for a maximum of 150 hours of exclusive field use booked by any of the park’s user groups between April 15 to Oct. 15.
But Griffin Augustin, the new president of Nelson Baseball, told the Star that the group actually needs 251 hours of exclusive use this season at Lions Park.
“The way [the policy is] written right now for Lions Park, it still has a dramatic impact on Nelson Baseball,” said Augustin. “It hasn’t really addressed the concerns that are brought on with the amount of hours that are required for minor baseball.
“Essentially we’re still crippled with the amount of utilization we can have up at Lions.”
Kozak said city staff and councillors took Nelson Baseball’s previous request, as well as community feedback, in mind when coming up with the new hours limit.
“It’s used really well,” she said. “For one square city block I can’t believe the amount of activity in there. I’m glad that we have some balance there and we can enjoy [our parks].”
Lakeside Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, Davies Street Park and Art Gibbon Park are also included in the policy.
Nelson Baseball, which also uses Queen Elizabeth, will also now be able to play at the Lakeside diamonds. Those fields had previously only been used by Nelson Mixed Slo-Pitch.
Augustin said Nelson Baseball will just use Lakeside for practices. Games at Lions Park are limited to players 10 years old and younger, while Queen Elizabeth is used by players aged 11 to 15.
Minor baseball at Lakeside, Augustin said, will not only affect Slo-Pitch’s schedule but the Nelson Soccer Association’s as well.
Nelson Baseball has applied for 150 hours at Lakeside, and Augustin said he’s working with Slo-Pitch, Nelson Soccer and the city to find solutions.
“It is what it is this year,” he said. “I think ultimately from the Nelson Baseball Association’s [perspective], we’re grateful to have places to play at, but I do certainly believe there’s going to be parents within the organization who … are going to have a really tough time with this because they look at it as an under utilization of a great area.”