KINGSBURG – The Kingsburg Youth Baseball Association has big hopes for the additional 3.5 acres they may be granted once a new housing development is built next door to Safarjian Field.
During the Jan. 2 Kingsburg City Council meeting, KYBA organizers presented some initial renderings of what they have planned for the site and say the ability to host more and larger tournaments in town would continue to bring even more visitors from around the globe to town.
KYBA President Steve Ramirez and Jason Garcia, along with other board members and supporters, presented their plans and thanked the Council for their support.
With a state title, regional title and World Series championship already under their belts, Ramirez said he’s proud of the players and has goals to grow the organization.
“Kingsburg’s a very giving community and we have bigger plans,” he said of the work that’s already been done at Safarjian Field. He described the Little League facility as “a jewel. It’s an absolutely gorgeous ball field. We’ve done a lot of things to it and we’ve had a lot of donations.”
Currently, 385 girls and boys from five to 12 years of age play in their program in four divisions. Now, they’ve taken over Babe Ruth for the 13- through 15-year-olds.
Garcia said one goal is to build the Babe Ruth program to have six more teams and their next feat will be to raise $50,000 to $100,000 to build a majors complex for them.
“This is a drawing of what it could look like, what it could be and how it’s going to fit on that 3.5 acres,” Garcia said of a plan created by Jeff Carter that they presented that night. “It’s not formal, but just to show everybody what it’s going to be.”
The extra property is being made possible as the Hash subdivision being built on 50 acres near Madsen/Road 16 and Kern/Avenue 396 includes property that will be developed into a baseball field.
Garcia said the plan is to use that property to develop their players so they can move on to play for Kingsburg High. They’d also like to bring in tournaments to town.
“We’re hoping with 72 more additional players, we can be that farm system for Kingsburg High School. We’ve got kids here that are able to beat out states and take a title in the United States.”
Ramirez said they’d like to see the field used for generations to come, as well as their own sons, and are just waiting for the green light to start fundraising.
“I kid you not, on Safarjian Field we get communities from all around who want to play on our field in Kingsburg. We want to just continue that since we love baseball and want to pass that on to our sons and future generations.”
Ramirez said they’ve hosted 24 regional events in the past and would like to host even more if they have a large enough field. More weekend tournaments would bring in more visitors, and their dollars, to the facility and to the town. Teams have come from Hawaii and Guam and by hosting such events, they’d continue to put Kingsburg on the map.
“That’s why were so excited,” Ramirez said.
To thank the Council and City Manager Alex Henderson in getting information out about their league and helping coordinate a parade in town after the 12-year-olds won a World Championship, signed baseballs were presented to each Council member.
Roman was supportive as she reiterated her gratitude for their efforts as coaches and parents.
“You guys have just done a tremendous job with these boys. I know how much work it takes to put all this on. Thank you all for putting Kingsburg on the map.”
In other matters, the Council also approved awarding Express Sign & Neon a contract for $76,290 to make the new way-finding signs that will be installed around town. The signs are meant to make it easier for visitors to find parking and key historical businesses in town.
The idea behind installing the updated signs is to draw visitors off Highway 99. A community planning team that visited Kingsburg in April 2017 initiated the project.
“When [planners] come in and talked about Downtown they said our signage is kind of disjointed and it’s been cobbled together over the years,” City Manager Henderson said.
The new signs feature blue and golden yellow colors, a Dala horse and Kingsburg’s name predominantly in the design.
Henderson will look at the city’s budget so new event banners can be purchased and Council is working with the Kingsburg Historical Society to create a map that will be installed on some of the signage, too.
Council is narrowing down exactly what equipment to install at Athwal Park after City engineer Dave Peters gave an update on the park’s first design phase.
Based on bids, he estimates it will cost $860,813 to install the skate park, fitness court and play structures. There are others costs such as landscaping improvements, sidewalks, irrigation and fencing. It will cost an additional $687,078 to install a restroom and splash pad and their associated sewer and electrical work.
“There are a lot of other supporting utilities that have to be brought in,” Peters said of the high cost. “We’ve done those in multiple jurisdictions and that is what it costs.”
Peters reports that because of rising tariffs, the fitness park business is predicting their prices will be rising in 2019 and it would cost another $16,000 more to install the fitness equipment.
A second phase at Athwal will include a picnic area, parking, walking trail, field improvements. Building the entire park will cost an estimated $2.7 million, he said.
Council reviewed a number of project options, their prices and the pros and cons of each. They also considered whether to purchase the equipment directly and bid the installation process only to save on costs.
“I’m showing the range of equipment and things we could do out there. Obviously, the nicer stuff will be more expensive. You can adjust the cost as you adjust the equipment,” Peters said.
Peters and Adam Castaneda of the City’s Community Services Commission will bring back a list of more specific equipment items to purchase.
Special event procedures
Castaneda also gave an update on the special-event application process. It’s been a year since a new process has been in place where more information is gathered from event sponsors so the police, fire and public works departments have information and can plan accordingly.
Castaneda said there has not yet been a screening method, however, and with a rise in private groups and nonprofits requesting street closures, he asked for some direction when public space is being used.
“Currently, there’s no criteria and staff has not set guidelines about which events should be allowed to take place,” he said.
Over the past year, there have been some running events, biking events and pop-up sales events that close down streets and sidewalks.
Castaneda said while there haven’t been any problems but with the increase in interest, he said it would be a good idea to establish guidelines.
“That could potentially be a nuisance for the Downtown district for business owners and their customers,” he said of the street closures.
Two options he suggested were charging private groups more to use public space and have them get written permission from business and property owners in the area. The current fee is $25.
Mayor Roman said one consideration is whether events will have wide-spread community involvement, or will be for an exclusive group.
“If you’re closing off streets and sidewalks, that impacts businesses,” she said.
Councilman Sherman Dix said while some events may bring more foot traffic to Downtown, the event may also compete with brick-and-mortar shops.