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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Little League Dunnellon receives funding from county for field improvements, repairs

Little League Dunnellon has moved one step closer to receiving needed repairs on its baseball fields and surrounding facilities.

Southwest Marion County community members turned to the county commissioners for additional funding to help repair and improve fields located at Dunnellon Little League sports complex (12214 Bridges Road in Dunnellon).

During the Marion County Board of County Commissioners regular meeting on Tuesday, the commissioners voted on approval for funding in the amount of $50,000 to be used for baseball field and surrounding facility repairs.

The nearly 19-acre site is located on land owned by the State of Florida and is leased to the City of Dunnellon. The lease between the State and City is currently expired and is being reviewed for renewal by the State.

Little League Dunnellon funding from county for field improvements repairs
Dunnellon Little League is located at 12214 Bridges Road

The complex is a baseball and softball facility operated by volunteers that features three baseball fields, two softball fields, one T-ball field, concession stands, two restroom buildings, various storage sheds, two parking areas, and four open batting cages.

Little League Dunnellon receives funding from county for field improvements repairs
The little league complex features three baseball fields, two softball fields, one T-ball field

A site assessment of the complex determined that numerous repairs are needed. Deferred maintenance needs (exterior enclosures, roofing, building interior and interior finishes, fire protection, electrical wiring, site improvements) along with short-term needs (roof replacement, restroom improvements, building interior and interior finishes, plumbing, HVAC, electrical wiring, site improvements) were highlighted by Marion County Parks and Recreation Director Jim Couillard.

Little League Dunnellon receives funding from county for field improvements repairs 4
Various roofs throughout the little league complex are in need of repairs
Little League Dunnellon receives funding from county for field improvements repairs 5
Exposed wires are a potential hazard

The deferred maintenance costs are estimated at $27,035 and the short-term costs are estimated at $27,900, bringing the total cost to nearly $55,000.

Director of Facilities Management Jared Goodspeed spoke during the meeting and discussed a need to bring the complex to a higher safety standard. He mentioned that there are numerous issues to fix throughout the complex, and most of the issues are labor intensive with low part costs.

The complex is seeking additional playability improvements on the various fields. On fields one, two, and three, there are plans for irrigation system repairs, the re-working of the clay infields, along with replacement of turf wherever needed. Any remaining funds after those repairs would be utilized for the re-working of the clay on fields four, five, and six.

The sports field renovations are estimated at around $45,000. Combined with the previously mentioned deferred and short-term repair costs, the total cost for maintenance and repairs is estimated at $100,000.

Commissioner Michelle Stone said, “I almost feel like it’s a hostile takeover from the City’s perspective. The City is responsible, it is their agreement with the State. This is their contract with the league. This has nothing to do with Marion County Parks. And Marion County Parks has been asked by an outsider to go in and do this.”

Chairman Carl Zalak III said,“Let’s be cautious. Let’s allow them to take the money. Let’s make the improvements we can with the gift and say ‘Merry Christmas.’”

After discussing the matter, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve the funding for the little league complex improvements.

The Marion County Board of County Commissioners meet on the first and third Tuesday of each month at the McPherson Governmental Campus Auditorium (601 SE 25th Avenue).