The Mobile City Council approved nearly $20,000 for new guardrails at Hank Aaron Stadium, despite the possibility there will be no team at the ballpark in 2019.
The funds for the $19,345 contract with Custom Metal Fabrication Inc. come from citywide capital money set aside in the 2017 budget. Executive Director of Finance and acting Chief of Staff Paul Wesch said this would be the last of the city’s obligations from the contract new BayBears owner Ballcorps LLC inherited when it bought the team.
Following a question from Councilwoman Bess Rich, Wesch told councilors that the team was up to date on its current $25,000 quarterly rent. He said the city expected BallCorps to continue to pay rent, as a new quarter approaches.
The Los Angeles Angels’ AA affiliate was recently sold and while the new owners are not currently seeking to relocate the team from Mobile, a recent Madison City Council decision to fund a stadium design plan is raising some eyebrows. The BayBears are expected to compete in Mobile for at least the 2018 season. If the team leaves before the 2020 season, the city will be owed $380,400, according to the contract.
In other business, the council discussed the merits of a long-range comprehensive plan for the city’s parks, introduced by Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s office. The agenda item, which will be delayed until after the first of the year per council rules, asks councilors to approve the reallocation of $127,000 to help match a grant for the study.
Executive Director of Parks and Recreation Matt Capps told councilors that the assessment would look at all the city’s parks with an eye toward making improvements. Capps compared it to the Map for Mobile comprehensive plan for zoning.
The total cost of the study is $270,000, Capps said.
Councilman Joel Daves asked that Capps include the council’s parks and recreation advisory committee in the discussions. Capps said the group would be involved. He added that there will be a number of public meetings detailing the plan.
The consultant the city plans to use is Lose & Associates out of Lawrenceville, Georgia. The group has completed comprehensive plans for more than 80 parks, Capps said.
The council also approved a $26,550 contract for design work on a basketball court at Figures Park. The firm handling the duties is Watkins Acy Strunk Design Inc.
Councilman Fred Richardson asked the city to consider putting basketball courts at every park in the city that offers other sports. He said the courts are relatively inexpensive.
“Are you going to pay for them?” Councilman John Williams asked Richardson. “Because if you are I’m all for it.”
Richardson responded by telling Williams he was “talking about the new world” and not “talking about the old world.”
“I believe in the new world all of our sports parks should have basketball courts,” he said.