The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

December 10, 2012

Stanfield Council discusses additional fencing and nets for town park

By Justin Jones, Staff Writer

Monday, December 10, 2012 — Assuring that safety remains a priority at Stanfield’s Pete Henkel Park, the Stanfield council members made a request that Town Administrator Bob Harvey look into the possibilities of adding either more fencing or safety nets to the baseball fields.

Councilman Greg Lucas initiated the conversation of the playground and ball field areas that wasn’t included on the agenda, but gathered the most discussion.

Lucas said he was recently approached with the topic in a recent conversation with a Stanfield resident. While Lucas admitted he hadn’t been aware of the situation in the past, he wanted to assure that their concerns weren’t without merit.

“It would only take one ball to hit my child, and I’m going to be upset, just like any parent would,” Lucas said.

Former Councilman Aaron Helms, who was responsible for overseeing the Parks and Recreation Department within the town, had spoken to Harvey about the location of the playground in relation to the fields. But Helms and the board as a whole eventually agreed there was no danger in the layout.

“That was a big discussion when Aaron (Smith) wanted that site right here,” Harvey said.

“It was a concern when that location was picked, and there hasn’t been enough (fly balls). Anybody on that road, the bleachers could get hit by a fly ball.”

Councilman Jason Smith said he hadn’t heard of many instances of balls entering the playground area either.

“There’s been talk about it, but I don’t think there’s enough of them to go over there,” Smith said.

A row of trees were put in place to help alleviate some of the concern. But as some families had notified Lucas, it seems that there has been instances, although it may be rare, where foul balls may be either flying over the trees, or through some branches, creating a dangerous scenario.

“If you’re sitting in the bleachers, you’re watching the ball game. If you’re sitting in the playground, you’re not paying attention to what’s going on the ballfield,” Lucas said.

“My point is where it’s placed is a great idea and we all agreed on that, but there could be potentially something like nets or something I’ve seen in other places that could eliminate that possibility if there truly is a safety concern.”

The way the fields off Park Road are aligned, the larger field is placed where foul balls over the first base line could come into the play area.

For the smaller field, it appeared from the Henkel Park maps that only foul balls leaving the field directly behind the backstop could approach the play ground.

In either situation, the solution may be to add netting or fencing, Mayor Kevin Barbee said.

Barbee asked that Harvey look into the situation so that the town takes the necessary steps for the kid’s safety.

“If we can do something that is reasonable, that’s money well spent,” he said.

“Absolutely,” Smith added.