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February 27, 2018 - 8:27am

Pitch for softball field improvements strikes chord with City Council

Batavia’s slo-pitch softball “renaissance man” was back in front of City Council on Monday night, this time with a group of players and fans from his league at Kibbe Park as well as representatives of the Batavia Girls Softball League at Lions Park. Both organizations are seeking funds to improve their respective fields.

“I’ve finally rounded up a bunch of players,” Michael Jamil said during the public comments of the meeting. “We have a wide demographic – age 18 to 60s … and it seems like everything is heading in the right direction. In time, (working) hand in hand, we will have a solution.”

Just two weeks ago, Jamil addressed Council as part of his continuing quest to have the City provide a sand/clay mix to keep the Kibbe Park diamond from flooding after it rains and to fix the lights.

Two league members spoke of their time in the New Batavia Softball League – Aaron Osterman of Wyoming, who says he comes back to Batavia after working a full day here three times a week “just to play softball,” and Andrew Ernst of Batavia, who said he used to play softball in Pavilion and Brockport before joining the Batavia league and having an “awesome experience the past three seasons with these guys.”

Osterman said he has observed Jamil working many hours on the field to get it in good enough shape for games to be played there, and running an extension cord from the park pavilion to power a scoreboard that Jamil paid for out of his own pocket.

Ernst pointed out the field’s problems, stating that the “infield sometimes can be terrifying (with all of its ruts and holes).”

“I’ve witnessed Mike Jamil working from dusk to game time to make the field playable, barely playable,” he said. “I believe the City is looking into upgrades to the field. Anything will be put to use and will be appreciated.”

Both men said the league, which has around 33 teams, attracts many fans and provides an economic boost to the City.

Before those three had their time at the microphone, Stan Kaus of Batavia, coach of the Batavia Stingers 12-and-under girls’ softball team, spoke on behalf of the Batavia Girls Softball League at Lions Park on Edward Street.

Kaus, who has been affiliated with the league for 23 years, said about 75 girls participate in the summer recreational program that has “no tryouts, no cuts and where no one is turned away if they can’t pay.”

He thanked the City for cutting the grass and picking up the trash, but said additional help is needed with the backstop, outfield fence (there is none), smoothing the outfield and improving the infield.

“We need clay topping on the field; regular dirt doesn’t work, it turns to mud,” he said. “The clay acts like a shield. The water will pond, but eventually dry.”

Following their pleas, City Council President Eugene Jankowski said that the board, at Interim Manager Matt Worth’s urging, has agreed “to find the money (in this year’s budget) to buy dirt and get the fields as best as we can.”

He then mentioned a city parks’ “master plan” that is being prioritized for consideration in the 2019 budget.

“Thank you to Michael for bringing this to our attention and it has steamrolled into helping girls’ softball as well,” Jankowski said.

While there is no money in this year’s budget for fences, he said, it will be discussed – looking at the pros and cons of having outfield fences.

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