Harmar’s park place

This time last year, the baseball infield at Flanders Field in Harmar was overgrown, the bathrooms weren’t open and the playground equipment was showing its age.

But thanks to donations from local businesses and the work of volunteers, the park has undergone what Marietta City Councilman Tom Vukovic calls a “rejuvenation” – at minimal cost to the city.

“The city doesn’t have the money to spend,” said Vukovic, D-4th Ward. “It’s a godsend to have these people out there willing to put money and effort into our parks.”

The ball field at the park had not been used much since the women’s softball league folded about 10 years ago, said Mark Duckworth, a member of the city recreation commission and the Marietta Softball Association. With less use, the field grew over and the park deteriorated.

When the Marietta Sluggers youth baseball organization needed a new field for its 9- and 10-year-old teams, Flanders seemed like a good fit, Duckworth said. The Sluggers leased the field from the city and worked with local businesses and organizations to fix it up, improving the infield surface, repairing the outfield fence and constructing new dugouts.

“Now it looks fantastic,” said Susie Joyce, recreation clerk for the city. “It looks better than it ever has.”

Moran Construction and Chip Ditchendorf Construction, both of which have offices nearby, put in new sinks and water lines to make the restrooms operational again and replaced the roof, said Tom Kunz, city public facilities director.

Duckworth Farms helped get the infield back in shape, and Apex Feed and True Value Hardware gave the team a good deal on a Turface conditioner for the dirt, said Rob Coil, manager of the Sluggers’ 10-year-old team. Slugger stalwarts Steve Hill and Deron Alkire were also helpful throughout the process, offering advice on field construction and other areas, Coil said.

Lumber for the dugout benches was purchased by the Andy Woods Foundation. Woods, who died in an automobile accident earlier this year, was the brother of Sluggers batting instructor and assistant coach Josh Woods. Smith Concrete provided the concrete, and the city bought roofing materials and donated chainlink fencing it was no longer using to cover the front of the dugouts.

“These are by far the coolest dugouts in the league,” Coil said.

The team parents are responsible for maintaining the field as well.

“It’s a win-win situation – get a beautiful park and took the maintenance off the city,” Duckworth said.

Coil estimated the value of the work done at the field was between $5,000 and $10,000.

The Sluggers organization isn’t the only group that’s helped spruce up the park. The River of Life Church on Franklin Street arranged for a visiting group from the Akron-Canton area to repaint the playground equipment.

“We supplied all the material, brushes and paint … and they did all the painting for us,” Kunz said.

Vukovic said there’s more he would like to see done at the park, and he’s recently spoken with a local service organization about having a pavilion built there.