The city of Wixom is winding up to pitch maintenance and equipment costs for the Gilbert Willis Park baseball diamonds to the softball leagues that use them, due to budgetary constraints.
A roster of 25 teams in two leagues play ball at Gilbert Willis Park. Over the years, the infield groomer used to maintain the fields has fallen into disrepair.
During last year’s budget hearings, the City Council was informed that the ball diamond infield groomer would need to be replaced. It was also suggested that an attachment for the groomer, tagged at $6,000, would be needed, along with a shed to store the machinery, for a total estimated cost of $12,000. Council advised the city administration to seek other ways to mitigate the expenditures.
“Basically it was council moving toward a self-sustaining program,” said Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Mike Howell. “The consensus was the revenues from the program should cover the costs.”
Throughout the year, staff collaborated with softball league representatives and others to craft a program aimed at providing quality fields without a financial subsidy from the city.
Moreover, SPURT, the city’s yard waste recycling partner, offered to buy a new Kawasaki Mule 4-x-4 off-road utility tow vehicle, in exchange for the aggregate base material salvaged from the Wexford Mews Road Program. The estimated cost of the new tow vehicle is $7,500.
“SPURT stepped up to purchase other pieces of equipment so we don’t need the shed anymore,” Howell said.
The DPW will still maintain the conditions of the baseball diamonds by grooming the fields, chalking the lines and making repairs.
Costs for DPW staff time, chalk and other ancillary materials will be absorbed by the two softball leagues. Their field rental rates will be increased by $10 per field per night.
“We had positive reactions from league representatives,” Howell said. “They like playing at our fields, like the way we maintain them and want the same environment. Essentially they understand the financial difficulty the city is facing.”