Rock­mart coun­cil look­ing at new field uses

The Standard Journal - - SPORTS - By Kevin Myrick [email protected]­stan­dard­jour­

Kids who play baseball and soft­ball – even from early ages – can agree that they have a dream that one day they’ll get a solid lead on a pitch and knock a ball right out of the park in front of a home­town crowd.

Yet at the mo­ment, it’s a dream some ful­fill and oth­ers only get to work to­ward their home­runs on the City of Rock­mart’s older fields – an area the city plans to change af­ter a com­plaint from one lo­cal busi­ness owner and youth coach.

Mayor Steve Miller promised that they’d be look­ing into why the city hasn’t al­lowed lo­cal teams much ac­cess – other than on spe­cial oc­ca­sions – to fields built with Spe­cial Pur­pose, Lo­cal Op­tion Sales Tax funds at the Nathan Dean Sports Com­plex.

“I think some de­ci­sions have been made that I was un­aware of and mem­bers around this ta­ble were un­aware of” Miller said dur­ing the Fe­bru­ary city coun­cil ses­sion. “We’re go­ing to try and fix it. We want the best for our chil­dren, and we wouldn’t have built it if we didn’t want it to be used.”

Clint Brock, a re­cent ad­di­tion to Rock­mart’s Lit­tle League board, asked dur­ing re­quested time to ad­dress the coun­cil why lo­cal youth haven’t been al­lowed the same amount of ac­cess to prac­tice on the newer fields at the Nathan Dean Sports Com­plex, or play as other teams from out of the area have in past years since the fa­cil­ity opened up new fields.

He said dur­ing the meet­ing that he loved the new fa­cil­i­ties and the fact that the city is bring­ing in vis­i­tors from out­side of the county to use them, but that it seemed un­fair for chil­dren lo­cally to not get to use them as much.

“We’re talk­ing about six year old who are prac­tic­ing late,” he said. “There’s a real safety is­sue… It’s much safer to play on a field that has been prepped, groomed and raked.”

Brock added in fol­low-up con­ver­sa­tions that based on his own time coach­ing for his own son, he had not once played on the new fields. Whereas teams from all across the state as re­cently as Novem­ber were on the fields for tour­na­ment play, draw­ing hun­dreds of vis­i­tors into Rock­mart who spend at restau­rants and stores.

Brock, the owner of the Race­way on the cor­ner of High­way 278 and High­way 113, asked the coun­cil to re­con­sider the po­si­tion and give lo­cal youth greater ac­cess to the fa­cil­i­ties, at least for the pur­poses of prac­tic­ing. He cited among other items the safety of youth play­ers, the growth of the pro­grams over the past year and their need for a greater amount of space as teams com­pete for fields and spend long hours on school nights pre­par­ing for the sea­son, and then for games.

“We have well over 500 kids play­ing be­tween rock­mart lit­tle league soft­ball and lit­tle league baseball,” he said in a fol­low-up in­ter­view. “I want to keep the fields pris­tine too, but be­tween Rock­mart Lit­tle League and Soft­ball, we need space to play too. I don’t see how 2 to 3 hours a day of Lit­tle League Sports can do that much dam­age.”

The Stan­dard Jour­nal sought com­ment from City Man­ager Jeff El­lis on the is­sue, but never re­ceived a re­turn call when a mes­sage was left.

Brock’s hope is that the city will change course and let the kids play.

“Our tax dol­lars pay for the fields, whether it is through SPLOST or not,” Brock said in the fol­low-up. “It’s a won­der­ful com­plex and I just want our kids to be able to uti­lize those fields.”

He asked the coun­cil to work to­gether on how to best use the fa­cil­i­ties, and was promised a re­sponse.

Miller did add dur­ing the meet­ing that “I think the fields are avail­able for our youth to use.”

The ques­tion has been over prac­tice on the fields, Miller con­tin­ued, and said that it was the direc­tion of the city’s Re­cre­ation Depart­ment to not use the fields for prac­tice but for play.

“I know that as the city has taken over girls soft­ball, the de­ci­sion was con­tem­plated on how to use the com­plex now for prac­tice,” he said.

Miller also praised the growth of lo­cal youth sports pro­grams in the past years like baseball and soft­ball.

“We’re com­mit­ted to our youth, and the best use of our fa­cil­i­ties,” he said. “The board will dis­cuss what we need to do and to take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion.”

/ Kevin Myrick

Whether lo­cal youth are per­mit­ted to prac­tice and play on newer fields built by the City of Rock­mart was a ques­tion Clint Brock brought be­fore the City Coun­cil last week.

/ Kevin Myrick

Rock­mart’s Clint Brock spoke out about the need for youth baseball and soft­ball pro­grams in the city to have ac­cess to newer fields for prac­tice and play when tour­na­ments aren’t in town.

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