In spacious Memorial Park, there lies Lyle Schroeder Field.
For many years, Lyle Schroeder Field was the home of adult softball leagues.
Now, inactive, it resembles a field that has gone through a plethora of cosmetic and infrastructural changes throughout the years.
The field hasn’t been in use for the past three years due to the construction from a lake outlet drain project and subsequent resurfacing and irrigation projects.
But there could be potential to not only restore Lyle Schroeder Field but offer a recreational purpose that serves the Saint James community.
In November 2017, The City of St. James approached the St. James Youth Baseball Association about the possibility of contributing financially to the renovation of the field.
The financial contributions and co-option would lead to a ball field that could serve a recreation use to the community.
While a preliminary draft agreement was given to the St. James Youth Baseball in November 2017, the details of this preliminary draft agreement have not been released.
Fast-forward to February, a proposal was given to St. James Superintendent by St. James’ City Manager relaying conceptual and conversational options regarding Lyle Schroeder Field.
A copy of the proposal was given to the Plaindealer regarding the following:
The proposal outlined a $180,000 project cost to be shared evenly through three parties (the City of St. James, St. James Youth Baseball Association and the 840 Independent School District.)
The proposal laid that the field would be under the ownership of the city, and sought an agreement between the three parties to identify rights and responsibilities of each party.
“Details to be worked out but a potential structure would have ongoing maintenance provided by the St. James Youth Baseball Association, with potential assistance on lawn mowing from the City and field preparation for school games by the School. The Association would maintain the concession stand and receive the concession revenues. The school would get priority usage and could choose to collect gate feed as they do at Veterans Field,” an excerpt from the proposal.
The following below are directly from the proposal, and are the words and concepts of the writer of the proposal:
City of St. James Benefits:
Provides a cooperative community asset that they cannot afford to provide on their own. The field will be fenced and protected but there will be arrangements made for public use, similar to the park shelters.
Receives assistance with the design and maintenance of the field from the community members with an interest in baseball.
Availability of the field enhances potential to host tournaments in St. James and will bring ancillary business activity to the community.
District 840 Benefits:
Receives a playable and safe field for Junior High and B/C teams to practice and play games on
Avoids future costs needed to improve the unsafe field behind the high school and opens that field up for accomodation into a softball field for a much lower cost than it would take to make it an appropriate baseball field.
Availability of the field enhances potential to host tournaments in St. James and will bring additional gate fees to the school.
Provides a second baseball field with school priority usage and no, or very minimal ongoing maintenance responsibilities.
Cooperative participation in the baseball program and working together to provide a community asset.
St. James Youth Baseball Association Benefits:
Improved, safer facilities for all baseball programs in St. James
Youth I90 leagues (4th-9th grade), Junior High and B/C teams all would have field intended for baseball to play on.
Availability of the field enhances potential to host tournaments in St. James and will bring additional concession revenue to the Association.
Ultimately, no agreement was made between the three parties, and conversations about and pertaining Lyle Schroeder Field remain at a purely conceptual level.
School Board Reaction:
The St. James School Board held a work session meeting during the month of February to discuss the proposal given to them regarding the field.
The school board ultimately decided not to move forward with the proposal.
Much of the School Board’s reason for rejecting the proposal stems from a lack of financial flexibility for the district.
Currently, the school district is working on possible budget cuts and some additions for next year and currently has a fund balance of -179,272 and during their previous School Board meeting had a discussion that turned into tabling a resolution for deductions for the next school year this fall.
“If this proposal came to us at a different time, with a better financial situation, we definitely would have entertained it,” said Superintendent Becky Cselovski.
According to Cselovski, City Manager Sam Hansen was notified of their decision after their February 12 work session.
According to Cselovski the School District has not seen or heard of any other proposal.
Hansen’s goal is to provide a potential recreational environment in the community, and in a future Parks and Recreation meeting - hopes to gain more background and insight into the field.
During the City Council meeting on Tuesday City manager Sam Hansen explained that there is no agreement between any entities at this time, and that all options are being explored on a conversation level.
“ There is nothing being presented or approved at this time that is something we are looking to address in the near future”
For the entire statement made by the City regarding this during their city council meeting is available by going to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLZr-8d4W2U and going to the 16:00 mark.
St. James City Manager said that the proposal that was given to Superintendent Czelovski was not generated by the City of St. James.
The Plaindealer will continue to follow all the developments in the story as they become available.