CLEARFIELD – Baseball and softball fans are looking into options to keep batting cages available to the community.
At a special meeting Wednesday, members of the Lawrence Township Recreation Park Board, the Lawrence Township Supervisors and members of the community discussed what to do for a facility to house the cages.
The cages are presently housed in the former Bayer building in Hyde. However, township supervisors are in the process of selling the building.
Supervisor Randy Powell, who opened the meeting, said the supervisors had put the building out to bid, but did not receive any offers. Powell said they are expecting an offer on the building soon.
Powell said if the township were to buy the building, they would have to pay prevailing wage, which result in an increased cost. He said the township would also have to do a site study, and the study would cost about $70,000 alone.
Powell said he spoke to a contractor to get a rough estimate on a 48X130 building. He said a “plain Jane” building of metal walls, a roof, insulation and floors would cost about $156,000 (not at prevailing wage). He said this estimate did not include heating, which would have to be ceiling units using either oil or tanked propane.
Powell said the supervisors and the Rec Park Board called this meeting to discuss what to do.
Larry Putt, chairman of the Rec Park Board, said a project like this is going to take a group effort and a lot of help.
Several people attending the meeting discussed the possibility of forming a non-profit group. The non-profit status would allow the group to apply for grants, and to solicit donations from local organizations for both money and materials.
As far as a timeframe, Powell said he doesn’t know how soon the building will be sold. He said if an offer comes in, it will take 60 days to close.
He said he has spoken to the potential buyer about letting the various sports organizations continue to use the building, at least for this winter.
If a non-profit group was formed and enough money was raised, Powell said the group would own the building and the township could issue the group a long-term lease for the land.
Supervisor Jeremy Ruffner said the new building could be located behind the basketball courts at the Rec Park, or the basketball court could be relocated and the building could be built where the present basketball court is.
After further discussion, Putt asked for volunteers to form a committee to meet with the Rec Park Board and the supervisors to get the project together. Powell said the supervisors will look into what the group will need to form a non-profit organization and from there, the group can work on fundraising.
Residents Derek Danver, Mike Norris, Dave Patrick, Greg Dixon, Tim Morgan and Jack Rumfola volunteered to serve on the committee.
“I’m very pleased with how many people came here tonight,” Powell said.
Putt thanked the supervisors for taking an active interest in the project.
“This is not just a Clearfield thing,” Rec Park Board Member Sid Lansberry said. “The cages are used by people from all over the area, Curwensville, Frenchville, all over.”
Resident Ed Yeager said he hopes the township, the Rec Park Board and the new committee will hold meetings at least monthly, to keep the community involved in the program.
“I don’t think people realize just how many people use those cages from fall through spring,” Yeager said. “I’m willing to bet it’s 150-200 people per week.”