Oceanside Minor Baseball Association is seeking funds to help maintain ball fields at Springwood Park. — News file photo

Oceanside Minor Baseball Association seeks city funding

Parksville council recommends club lobby Regional District of Nanaimo

The City of Parksville is willing to help out the Oceanside Minor Baseball Association with a capital improvement project this year. But it’s not interested in picking up the entire tab.

Kirk Walper, vice president of OMBA, and Mike Parlow, past president of the organization and a director with the Parksville Royals Premier League baseball club, appeared as a delegation at the final Parksville city council meeting of 2017. The pair were seeking a funding split of the $6,000 annual cost of crushed infield fill needed to maintain the ballfields at Springwood Park.

“I recognize that (baseball) players come from all over the area, so I would certainly support that,” coun. Leanne Salter said of the club’s request for $3,000 to $4,000 annually. “But do you think it would be a good idea to also approach the RDN (Regional District of Nanaimo) and Qualicum Beach and see if they’d be willing to offer a split?”

Parlow said OMBA had not yet approached the regional district or other municipalities, but planned to do so. “We brought this out as an initial trial balloon,” he said of the Parksville council presentation, which included slides and a history of the association’s work at Springwood Park’s ballfields.

Oceanside Minor Baseball is entering its 37th year, and annually draws between 200 and 300 players from communities in the Parksville Qualicum Beach region, Parlow said. Recent projects the club has completed include a $10,000 scoreboard installed at the peewee field three years ago, funded entirely by OMBA; a $104,000 batting cage completed in 2009 with the aid of a $40,000 gaming grant; and the conversion of a bramble-covered bluff into a gently sloping “grassy knoll” beyond the peewee outfield fence, which was completed just in time for the association to host the 2016 Peewee AA provincial championships — “which we won,” Parlow added.

OMBA once again hosted a provincial championship last summer, but the 2017 Bantam Championships were contested in part on a sub-standard Rotary Field that still had a grass infield.

“We didn’t meet the specifications Baseball BC was hoping to see,” Parlow said. “We had planned to get it done in time for provincials; unfortunately, it didn’t work out.”

Parlow and Walper appeared in December with the idea of getting the field “skinned” of its grass surface and filling with a crushed gravel composite in time for the start of the season this April. Mayor Marc Lefebvre noted the city recently completed its provisional 2018 budget deliberations, and said the association would have been well-served by making its pitch during those discussions.

City council will commence its final 2018 budget deliberations in February, and the final budget will be completed by May 15, city CAO Debbie Comis said. She said council could still consider the baseball club’s funding request during deliberations, and approve it as a stand-alone item prior to final budget passage, if it wishes to fund OMBA prior to April.

Coun. Teresa Patterson made a motion directing staff to draft a report with options for including the club’s funding, which passed unanimously.

“I can support this because it gives you time to go to the RDN,” coun. Kim Burden said to Parlow and Walper.

“The fields are used by the RDN; the City of Parksville, because we’re the location for the park, bears the greater financial burden. I think you should ask (RDN) for full funding, and that way we’re participating and Qualicum Beach is participating.”

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