Mary Lippert

Use of Centennial Park being allowed again in 2019

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

There will be action at Centennial Park again this summer sports season, but questions still linger over what happens beyond 2019.

Town council received official notification from the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) at the Feb. 25 meeting that the 15 acres of the park it bought to construct a new public high school on can be used again this year.

“Further to our initial discussions and negotiations on this topic, the Greater Essex County District School Board is pleased to have formalized with the Town of Amherstburg the utilization of the Board’s 15-acre land, formerly Centennial Park Property, until September 7, 2019, the first weekend after Labour Day Weekend,” board planner Bryan Pearce wrote. “Please be advised that the Greater Essex County District School Board is currently working on the detailed design of the new dual campus high school and construction on the property will not occur until at least September 2019. The Greater Essex County District School Board is pleased that the Town of Amherstburg would like to continue to utilize the property until Labour Day weekend for continued recreational programming, consistent with the arrangement last year.”

That news was positive for Mary Lippert, the president of the Amherstburg Minor Baseball Association (AMBA).

“We’re pretty excited. We’ll see how it goes,” said Lippert.

Lippert said 2019 will be “business as usual” for minor baseball but wonders what will happen beyond that.

“We’re still pushing the town to build new diamonds,” she said.

AMBA will participate in the Libro Centre Master Plan process this year, Lippert noted, as “any time we can move forward with youth sports in Amherstburg, we’ll be on board with that.” She hopes that diamonds will be constructed for the 2020 baseball season.

Lippert said the town contacted her last week about the ability to play at Centennial Park this year and, while happy to get the news, she added they had been trying to get answers since September to no avail.

“It was a bit frustrating,” she said.

The Greater Essex County District School Board is building the new public high school on the southern 15 acres of Centennial Park (blue shaded area).
(Image courtesy of www.publicboard.ca)

AMBA is trying to stay positive, Lippert added, and she just hopes diamonds are constructed somewhere in town so the youth in town have a place to play baseball. AMBA uses diamonds seven days per week and she noted other user groups use other parks in town.

“We just want our kids to have some place to play,” she said. “Hopefully sooner rather than later the town can have a plan together and put it in place.”

Lippert said AMBA is waiving its late fees and registration has been extended through April 1. People can register at www.amherstburgcardinals.com.

Local swimmers still have questions, however. Yvette Erickson, who along with fellow parent Tiffany Cote, have been pressing the town for a pool, said she hasn’t heard anything official yet from the town. Erickson said she read online about the additional year but, as of Saturday afternoon, had yet to hear anything from the town. She was unsure of plans for 2019 as she did not know the condition of the Lions Pool and whether anything had been removed in terms of plumbing or filtration.

A message had been sent to council members, Erickson added, and she said she was told to be patient.

“No one has been in contact with us telling us it’s a go,” she said. “No one has been very forward with what exactly is going on.”

Erickson said “it would be fantastic if we get one more summer” at the Lions Pool, but added they would like direction one way or another so that swimmers and their parents can make future plans.

“It’d be nice to know if kids are going to have to go somewhere to swim or whether they can stay in town,” she said, noting her back-up plans are either to go to LaSalle or Harrow.

While swimmers are still in limbo, Erickson said they have been told there are options for swimming but they have heard nothing further.

“They just kept telling us there are options,” she said. “No one has given us options.”

The town did discuss potentially opening the Lions Pool during recent budget deliberations with administration telling council that it would cost approximately $78,500 in staffing, upgrades, repairs and insurance costs to re-open the pool in 2019. Councillor Michael Prue asked if the town could forgo some of of the costs, such as painting, but administration told him that much of those repairs aren’t for cosmetic purposes but rather to satisfy board of health regulations.

“The pool is in such a state that you have to paint it,” said manager of operations Sandy Lindsay.

Manager of recreation services Rick Daly said there were 912 individual users of the pool last year and estimated $11,000 in fees could be generated to offset some of the costs.

“There is another possibility we are exploring,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, during the deliberations.

Erickson said she and others are willing to step up and volunteer to do some of the work if it means keeping the pool open another season.

AMBA hosts girls softball tournament at Centennial Park

 

By Jonathan Martin

 

Centennial Park has seen its last girls’ softball tournament.

Last weekend marked the park’s final girls’ select tournament.  With the new high school set to erect on the site, the baseball diamonds will be demolished and the Amherstburg Minor Baseball Association (AMBA) will have to find a new home.

Mary Lippert is AMBA’s president and the girls’ house league convener.  She said the weekend’s weather cooperated, the girls enjoyed themselves and the tournament went off without a hitch.

The senior girls’ division of the select tournament bat it out last Sunday. Leamington hit its way to victory over Essex in the Juniors with a final score of 13-5. Kingsville caught the Intermediate title over Essex, 19-11. Leamington won over Essex with a score of 19-5 in the Senior Division. Last weekend marks the final time the Centennial Park baseball diamonds will be used for the tournament.

“I’m proud of the girls and I’m happy with how everything turned out,” she said.  “Personally, I am a little bit sad to say goodbye to these facilities after all this time.”

Amherstburg, Leamington, Harrow, Essex and Kingsville all played in the tournament.

Leamington hit its way to victory over Essex in the Juniors with a final score of 13-5.  Kingsville caught the Intermediate title over Essex, 19-11.  Leamington won over Essex with a score of 19-5 in the Senior Division.

Lippert said she has received reassurances from the Town of Amherstburg officials that new baseball diamonds will be constructed, but neither Lippert nor RTT has received any details regarding new facilities.

Minor baseball concerned about immediate future with pending loss of diamonds

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Minor Baseball Association (AMBA) is wondering where their players are going to play next season and took their concerns to town council.

AMBA president Mary Lippert appeared before town council and questioned where the local players plus ones coming to town to play in the multiple tournaments that have been scheduled are going to play. With the sale of 15 acres of Centennial Park to the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB), it means the loss of four diamonds there.

While there is a recommendation to relocate the diamonds to the Libro Centre, a concern with that is the fact no construction has started on those yet.

“Our biggest concern is if something doesn’t get done soon, our kids won’t have any place to play,” said Lippert.

Lippert added there is a fear that if youth start playing elsewhere, they won’t come back to Amherstburg even when new diamonds are built. There were also questions raised over the shape of the diamond and the ability to have the AMBA work on some of the diamonds to ensure they are in good shape.

“Are we going to have input on how they are built?” she also asked.

The premier baseball diamond, already located at the Libro Centre, has seen Amherstburg players “get the leftovers” of the times that are remaining while out-of-town users have received better bookings.

Image courtesy of Amherstburg Minor Baseball’s Twitter account (@AmherstburgBall)

“We live here,” said Lippert. “That’s unacceptable.”

It all comes down to ensuring local kids have a place to play baseball, she added.

“It’s the kids I worry about,” she said. “We want to make sure they have some place to play. What about next year if we’re not starting soon? What do we do for these 400 kids?”

CAO John Miceli said the diamonds at the Libro Centre won’t be ready for next year but the town will have to spend one year working with user groups. He said this year was taken care of through an arrangement with the GECDSB to use Centennial Park but arrangements have to be made for next year.

“We do have a number of diamonds available,” he said.

Work also has to be done if the town and Amherstburg baseball players are to use Co-An Park in McGregor and River Canard Park. The latter is run by the Town of LaSalle, said Lippert, and AMBA received a bill for $8,300 to use it last year.

Councillor Rick Fryer said they are “behind the eight-ball already” with minor baseball and wanted to know why the town was “dropping the ball” in addressing their needs. Miceli said the town “does not want to build anything in haste” and wants to see a “centre of excellence” at the Libro Centre.

“I know it’s an inconvenience but we want to have the best facilities going forward,” he said.

Lippert voiced concerns over user groups at other diamonds and questioned the town over why the issue wasn’t addressed before the 15 acres of Centennial Park was sold.

“Why didn’t this get looked at before we sold this property?” said Lippert.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the sale of the Centennial Park land was an issue of timing and that the town wants to have the best facilities it can even though there will be a year where it will be tougher for local baseball players to get to their games and practices.

“We are going to have a year of inconvenience where we will work this out,” said the mayor.

 

Girls wrap-up tournament comes to Amherstburg

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Minor Baseball Association held the annual girls wrap-up tournament over the weekend with teams from across the county coming to town.

Hannah Bauer delivers a pitch to the plate during girls slo-pitch action last Friday night at Centennial Park.

Hannah Bauer delivers a pitch to the plate during girls slo-pitch action last Friday night at Centennial Park.

The slo-pitch tournament featured teams from Leamington, Kingsville, Essex, Harrow, Cottam and the host Amherstburg teams.
Amherstburg had two teams in each of the intermediate, junior and senior divisions. In the intermediate division, Leamington had six teams, Kingsville three, Essex and Harrow having two teams and Cottam one. In the junior age group, Leamington and Kingsville each had four while Essex and Harrow joined Amherstburg with two teams while Cottam had one. In the senior division, Leamington had four teams, Kingsville and Essex each fielded three while Harrow also had two.

“There’s 39 teams this year,” said Amherstburg Minor Baseball Association president Mary Lippert. “The girls range from 8-18.”

Rachel Parker camps under a fly ball during girls slo-pitch tournament action last weekend.

Rachel Parker camps under a fly ball during girls slo-pitch tournament action last weekend.

The teams were from the house league divisions.

“There is no girls slo-pitch travel,” she said.

Lippert said the tournament usually moves around Essex County but Amherstburg has hosted it the last two years. There is a selects tournament this year too for local teams, but Lippert pointed out that will be in Leamington.

The tournament ran from Friday through Sunday with games being played at both Centennial Park and Malden Centre Park. Results were not available as of press time.