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Thunder Bay sports fields get review

The city of Thunder Bay wants to know more about the condition of its sports fields — and some users say there's work to be done.

City to hire consultant to assess condition of baseball, soccer, football fields

The James Street play field in Thunder Bay is one of many sports fields in the city that will be assessed by a consultant. The city's parks department says any repairs coming out of the consultant's report will be done starting in 2015. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

The city of Thunder Bay wants to know more about the condition of its sports fields — and some users say there's work to be done.

The city maintains more than 70 baseball, soccer and football fields. It’s looking for a consultant to examine their condition, how much they are used, and what's needed to keep them in proper shape in the coming years.

An official with the Port Arthur Nationals baseball league said he feels the city should increase the budget for field maintenance.

"We have one field that needs a lot of fill because, when you get heavy rains, you can't play on it,” Ed Aleksiekan said.

“The outfield is just like a lake. And that requires a lot of time and money."

City parks manager Paul Fayrick said the consultant will be asked to come up with a list of repairs and rank them in order of priority, including the condition of the field, the turf and the grass.

“We've never really gone out and assessed the condition of the fields," Fayrick said. “Is it used enough so that we should be warranted to try and put a lot of money to fix them?” 

Parents ‘cut the grass’

That assessment is long overdue for people like Julie Shostal, who thinks more maintenance is needed at some baseball diamonds.

Shostal is with the Current River Americans baseball league, which uses several different fields around the city.

"Girls softball is also over here and they have tournaments as well,” she said. “We've had parents have to go cut the grass because it was not done."

Fayrick noted that, when city workers are out cutting grass, they get an idea of the conditions of the field.

"Generally, the rough condition of the field,” he said. “[But] before we embark on some wholesale changes in the turf program, we should actually find out what kind of condition they're actually in. And that's essentially what we're trying to do."

Fayrick said any work the consultant recommends won't start until 2015.

The city has 71 sports fields in total: 53 baseball, 17 soccer and 1 football area. Many other parks or green spaces will not be part of this study.

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