PERRYVILLE — The president of Perryville Little League is confident that the mayor and commissioners will fix the problems identified with the construction of the new Trego Field behind town hall.
“Mayor Bob Ashby has been nothing but good to me,” John Albanese said. “I’m sure he’s going to do everything in his power to make it right.”
Albanese, his wife Karen Albanese and Mike Knell also got assurances from commissioners Michelle Linkey and Robert Taylor that the $2.4 million project would be done correctly.
Linkey and Taylor toured the construction area after Tuesday night’s town meeting as various issues were pointed out, including incorrect placement of fencing, the wrong height of fencing and numerous bio-retention ponds surrounding the ballpark, which take up area that should have allowed for bleacher placement. Only four sections of bleachers fit now instead of seven.
“They had the foul poles going in the wrong direction,” Karen Albanese said, noting that has already been fixed.
“The surface of the field is a mess,” John Albanese added, noting large rocks are strewn throughout along with uneven surface. “Centerfield is also a foot higher than right field and left field.”
On top of all that, it appears to be standard construction soil was used rather then the needed special material — which was indicated in plans — for player safety in a ballpark.
“When they dug up the old outfield, they went real deep and picked up the old gravel from the access road,” Albanese said, going back to decades ago when what is now town hall was Perryville Fire House.
“He told me they’d change it and they did not,” he reported to the commissioners.
The project is at 60% completion, expected to be done by Labor Day, officials reported.
Rocchi Construction won the bid in a second round ordered after all the bids in the first round came in extraordinarily high. In those packages, the construction of the field house alone came in at more than $2 million. The mayor and commissioners put it out to bid a second time, awarding it to the Timonium-based company.
Trego Field is the second of a three-phase town hall complex project in Perryville. The first was the $2.8 million police station and stormwater management of the entire site. The Little League project would result in the field being turned the other direction, and a new larger field house built to eliminate all the storage sheds on the property.
But this week, officials began expressing concerns about the design and condition of the project before it is finished construction.
One of the issues pointed out was the height of the fences, which should be at least 6 feet in some places, but is only 4 feet. There should also be 24 feet behind the backstop, but currently there is only 14 feet of fence keep loose balls inside the field. Ten-foot-high sections of fence are in front of the dugouts as well.
Taylor knew that was incorrect.
“That backstop needs to be higher and you can’t put a fence inside a fence,” he said.
Mike Knell said it appears to him that the company has never built a ballpark before.
“I said to them, ‘You didn’t put in a warning track,’ and they said, ‘What’s a warning track,’” Knell recalled.
There is also no gate on the field to allow access to emergency equipment should a player become injured.
John Albanese also showed Linkey and Taylor another major issue with access to the field house.
“I get 40 cases of soda a week,” he said of the concession stand supplies.
He showed the elected officials that there is no way to get a delivery to the doors. Also, the garage door put in to store the tractor used to mow the field does not give a wide enough radius for the equipment to make the turn into the garage.
“This doesn’t work,” Albanese said.
Kim Williams moved into her home on Otsego Street 14 years ago knowing that the ballpark was in her backyard. This redesign means now she has the backstop instead of the outfield just a few feet away from her backyard.
“If they were going to spend $2 million, it should be less intrusive to the community,” she said.
Williams told the elected body that during games she has people wandering through her property. She learned that there would be some sort of buffer erected to lessen that issue.
Matt Roath, a local businessman who supports Little League, demanded to know what went wrong and why the town was not monitoring the project better.
“You’ve affected people’s property values,” Roath said, adding that he felt the town made “a $2 million mistake.”
“How could this happen, especially with the proximity to this office?” he asked. “There was a lot of oversight missed on all sides.”
While Roath said the fixes to make the field useful would make it too big for the property, John Albanese is convinced it’s salvageable.
“Absolutely. The key is to make sure things get done right,” he said.
Right now the field is not outfitted properly for play other than T-ball. Fences need to be higher, with netting possibly. Without the higher fencing, Albanese predicts that when older players take the field there will be balls hitting the new town hall in the future.
“And in the traffic circle you’re right in line with a line drive,” he said.
There was also a request for electrical outlets and a hose connection, neither of which are in place, Knell pointed out to Linkey and Taylor.
Ashby said that Ralph Ryan, the town engineer, would be ordered to check in on the project at least twice daily from now on to assure it was being built as designed.
Meanwhile Albanese said Perryville Little League has had to dip into its savings because a huge source of its seasonal income was lost this summer.
“We could not host Little League tournaments this year. In a typical week, we could pull in $4,000,” he said. “We would use that money to offset the cost of uniforms.”
Albanese said he and the Little League board would meet with town officials Monday to flesh out all the issues and settle it once and for all.
“We want to be good neighbors,” he said.