NEW ALBANY — When the New Albany Little League decided to leave its facility off Mount Tabor Road, the plan was to build fields for all levels at Kevin Hammersmith Memorial Park. The league followed through with that plan, but with one omission. A bigger field for older players is not part of the new complex.

That is because the New Albany-Floyd County School Corp. was to build a junior varsity/freshman field where the Little League teams once played off Mount Tabor, next to the varsity field. The plan included letting the 13-15 year-old Little League team use the field, and both signed a lease securing the space. That allowed the girls' softball league, played behind Grant Line Elementary School since 1978, to be moved to the new Little League complex at Hammersmith Park.

But now the junior varsity field may not be built, due to a change in plans. So where will the older Little League teams play?

Bill Wiseheart, director of facilities for the corporation, said a new plan would include keeping the varsity baseball field off Mount Tabor at its current location and instead of building a second baseball field next to it, construct a softball field for the New Albany girls' team. Both would share a concession stand and both would also have artificial turf infields, similar to what Providence High School has on its baseball field.

Wiseheart said the turf infields would ensure more play, less rainouts and almost no upkeep.

Board member Donna Corbett asked Wiseheart about the cost to replace the fields. Should a softball field be built and turf placed on both infields, the corporation would have five turf fields, she said.

"What is the longterm plan to maintain the turf fields?" Corbett asked.

Wiseheart said when the fields wear out only the carpet is replaced, not what is underneath the fields. The cost would be much less than what it was when installed. He also said the modern turf fields are durable.

"We have had our football fields for a few years now and they are showing no sign of wear," he said.

But the quality of the turf may be secondary to the main problem which is how to get out of the lease agreement with New Albany Little League on using a new junior varsity field which now may be scrapped

The solution could be sitting behind the Spaghetti Shop off Charlestown Road — 15 acres of land located in a flood plain. Superintendent Brad Snyder said that land could be sold to the Little League at a minimal cost to build a larger field for its older players. It's also near Hammersmith Park.

"We have to find a way to satisfy Little League. We have a lease with them," Snyder said.

Justin Endres, president of Little League, said league officials thought the solution for a larger field was secure after signing a lease with the school corporation a few years ago. He said it allowed them to build fields for softball and get both girls and boys in one location at Hammersmith Park. Now they are back to not having a home for older players. However, he said he is open to possibly making a deal for the 15 acres the corporation plans to offer.

The discussions will continue.

SLATE RUN CONSTRUCTION

The new Slate Run Elementary School is ahead of schedule and should be completed by May. All work is now indoors, according to Wiseheart. He said furniture will be delivered in April and the school will be ready for a new school year in July.

"It's going to be a beautiful building when it is done," Wiseheart said.

The old Graceland Baptist School now serves as temporary home to Slate Run students.

WASHINGTON, D.C. TRIP

The board approved a plan Monday, through Martin Travel, for this year's Washington, D.C., trip offered to eighth-graders. The trip is Sept. 29-Oct. 1 and will no longer include overnight travel. Students will leave at 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 29 and depart Washington, D.C. at 10 a.m. on Oct. 1. The student cost is $590.

NEW PRESIDENT

Elizabeth Galligan was voted in as the new president of the board by a 4-3 vote. She replaces Jenny Higbie who will serve as vice president.

Chris Morris is an assistant editor at the News and Tribune. Contact him via email at chris.morris@newsandtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NAT_ChrisM.

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