The Bement Foundation hopes high school baseball will return to the Bement ball field next spring, even if it means contracting a firm to finish the renovation job that started five years ago.
"Our hope is we can get it ready for spring sports," said Foundation President Michelle Gross. "The volunteers have been great but it’s been hard to get them together for a long time."
Those volunteers raised about $40,000 prior to renovations starting in 2012, which have included tile work, block work for dugouts, and fencing installed on the right and left field lines. A backstop is also up but needs to be finished.
About $34,000 has been spent on the work to date.
When completed, Bement’s cooperative agreement with Cerro Gordo calls for 1/3 of home high school baseball games to be played at the Bement field, located just west of the football field. That would amount to three to four games per year, plus 1/3 of home playoff games.
Gross said the effort was a "longtime dream of Chalmer Hinton," a Bement sports enthusiast who died in December of 2015. His widow Barb reached out recently to inquire about progress at the field, which is prompting the foundation to obtain quotes from outside firms to complete the job.
The Bement school district has agreed to supply the outfield fence, and on Aug. 9 the school board discussed whether to purchase portable or permanent fencing.
Although portable units that could be broken down and stored were the initial preference several years ago, school superintendent Sheila Greenwood said she has been told by traveling baseball coaches that permanent fencing are more appealing to outside tournaments.
On the other hand, permanent fencing could limit parking for the football field, which hosts Bement’s homecoming game each year. One solution could be to add gates on the fence to allow parking in the baseball outfield for the yearly gridiron contest.
The school board will discuss the issue further at its Sept. 20 meeting.