The St. Albert Minor Baseball Association could be on the hook for $20,000 after it says the city overreacted to its traditional practice of drying baseball diamonds by setting them on fire.
In mid-July, an official with the non-profit association poured six litres of diesel fuel on one of Legion Memorial Ball Park rain-soaked baseball diamonds in the city northwest of Edmonton and lit it on fire.
But what was meant to be a routine operation went awry when, within minutes of the fire, firefighters and a city hazardous materials team rushed to the diamond to estinguish the blaze and dig up the field to test for contamination.
Since then, the city has also forced the association to dig up one of the pitching mounds found to be contaminated with the fuel.
Gerry Peterson, the association's facility director, said what the city did is disgusting.
"It's sickening. It's absolutely sickening. Me and my field guys have lost sleep over it, let's put it that way," he said.
City officials, however, defend their actions.
Chris Jardine, general manager of St. Albert's community and protection services, said the quick-dry practice puts both players and the environment at risk.
"At the end of the day, we are concerned about safety and risks to people utilizing those diamonds. I wouldn't say it was an overreaction, it was an appropriate reaction to ensure for public safety," he said.