Ballfield becomes parking lot

Published 10:54 pm Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The city has turned a park behind the Human Resources building into a temporary parking lot for city vehicles to alleviate the heavy parking situation created by the new city hall construction.

The city has turned a park behind the Human Resources building into a temporary parking lot for city vehicles to alleviate the heavy parking situation created by the new city hall construction.

Folks wanting to play ball at a downtown park recently have been stymied by a new parking area created for city vehicles.

Wellons Park, located directly behind the Human Resources building at 440 Market St., has been turned temporarily into a parking lot to help alleviate the parking crush caused by construction on the new municipal center.

“My son was just tore up about it,” said Blake Baker after trying to take his 6-year-old son to play there recently. “I just think it’s a shame.”

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Baker said he heard the field would be closed permanently. But Deputy City Manager Patrick Roberts said the field could be opened back up after construction is finished.

“It’s been our only ballfield for the core downtown that we leave open for anybody to use informally,” Roberts said. “There are no leagues or programming on the field.”

With parking at a premium near city hall since the construction started, the city placed mulch on part of the field and is using it for overflow parking for city vehicles on days when there is heavy traffic at city hall, Roberts said.

“We just put some mulch down and compacted it so we can park four-wheel-drive trucks on it,” he said.

That way, more spaces will be available for those visiting city hall.

As a tradeoff, the city has opened Peanut Park on South Saratoga Street for informal use when there are no league games or other scheduled events going on. Typically, Peanut Park is not open to the public but is opened only for scheduled league games.

But for Baker, Peanut Park is too far away to be a fair trade.

“That’s like night and day,” he said. “It baffles me why they’re taking that park away. I hope they turn it back into a park.”

For those closer to the eastern side of downtown, the John F. Kennedy Recreation Center also has ballfields that can be used by the public when there are no scheduled events, Roberts said.

To inquire about the use of any of the fields, call Parks and Recreation at 514-7250.