Early next week the future of recreational softball in Leavenworth could change dramatically.
On Tuesday, the Leavenworth City Commission will vote on whether or not a new ballpark will be built at 21st and Choctaw.
The proposed field, which has received the title Eagles Ball Fields, has been in the works for some time. Originally allocated $970,000 for the project by the commission back in 2012, the new park would allow for the construction of an ASA-approved men's softball field, which could host official tournaments.
The trickle down effect, besides extra income from ASA competitions, would be the reproduction of the same result for the women's league.
Currently, both the softball fields at Cody and Hawthorne Parks fall below ASA standards to host official men's softball tournaments. Hawthorne is where the women presently play at.
If Eagles Ball Fields were completed, the men would move in and the women would play at Cody, thus meeting the ASA requirements for both. All sounds great, right? Except for the price tag.
And that is where the City Commission splits. Last month, commissioners Mark Preisinger and Larry Dedeke both reinstated their conflict with the resolution. Not so much for the idea itself of improving parks, but for using nearly one million dollars on a ball field when, in their minds, there are more important issues that the funds are needed for.
"I'm not opposed to a new ballpark, but I am opposed to it at this time," Commissioner Larry Dedeke said back in mid-June. "There are so many other infrastructure needs that this city needs. We have sewer line problems, we definitely got street problems and it would be different if we had one or two little ball fields, but we just spent almost 2.5 million on Sportsfield."
But while the two men voiced their dissension, a unified position on the subject has not been reached by the rest of the commission. And for that reason, the vote on the matter has been delayed until commissioner Davis Moulden could return from his health absence.
That return is scheduled for this Tuesday and thus, the stage is set.
For me, the choice is not black and white. I believe both sides have valid arguments. On one hand, the city's infrastructure is as important as always. Good roads, sewers and buildings are vital issues that need constant maintenance.
That becomes especially difficult during a recession like the one our country recently came out of, and so it's understandable to want that money spent wisely.
On the other side, the city's parks are just as important as its infrastructure due to what they offer the families of Leavenworth. With the impact quality parks and facilities have on citizens, particularly children, it's truly an investment in the future — perhaps more so than resurfacing roads.
Page 2 of 2 - And so I can't fault either side of the discussion for their stance. It's all reasonable.
But there is one deciding factor that sticks out to me. No matter which way this is viewed, the money was originally ear-marked for this project. It was meant to build a softball field, and thus in my eyes, it should be used to build a softball field.
It was a promise and one that shouldn't be broken. A city's parks are important because it's where people come together. Parks help forge a sense of community, whether it's kids, women or men using them.
To me, that is progress and progress is usually always the right way to go.
This debate will not have a clear cut winner or loser. As mentioned, both sides have compelling arguments.
But weekly I see the positive impact the renovation of Sportsfield has had on the families of Leavenworth, and I wonder what could be if you were to double that.
Depending on what happens Tuesday, we may never know.
Brent Lager has been on the Times' sports editoral staff since 2010.