Out with the dog park and in with an upgraded baseball field.
The City of Prince Rupert has approved the restoration of Doug Kerr Field for minor league baseball. The field, which is currently used as a dog park, will receive new grass and fencing, making it suitable for minor baseball use once again.
“Now that we have a league up and running, it’s fantastic that the city’s willing to invest a little bit into it and getting it back online for us to use,” said Ralph Weick, president of the Prince Rupert Minor Softball Association.
The restoration is possible thanks to the $100,000 the city won as a part of the BCAA Play Here contest in June for its revitalization of Mckay Street Park, which freed up city money for other recreational upgrades.
In the Dec. 11 council meeting, Weick and PRMSA secretary Lisa Pirillo presented to council outlining the need for a space dedicated to younger players that would give more flexibility to the minor league’s scheduling. Up until now, PRMSA has been playing games at Roosevelt Park, Crestview Park, Chris Maguire Field and Patty Hutcheon Field. Weick said this arrangement meant the league has to schedule its games around other groups using those fields which was not always convenient for parents of the players.
He said a field dedicated solely to minor baseball would ease the burden on league volunteers who are active elsewhere in Prince Rupert.
“Bringing this field back online would alleviate that for us and for the people involved in our league,” he said.
The dog park will be relocated to the new Mckay Street Park. Weick acknowledged that creating a new dog park was an important part of discussions with the city, showing pictures of his two dogs using the current park in his presentation.
“I am also a user of the field as a dog park so I understand the concerns and the need for a space for dogs and dog owners,” he said.
Mayor Lee Brain thanked Weick and Pirillo for working with council to revamp the space, saying it was PRMSA’s initiative that enabled council to plan for the improvements.
“It was because of you guys coming and talking to us that we were able to get this done, so thank you,” he said.
Brain said he grew up playing baseball on the field, and was sad when the mill closed and the league shut down due to lack of players.
“I remember what a sad story that was so that was a huge part of my life growing up,” he said. “So to see it come back and to see you put this type of effort in is great for the community.”
Weick said he hopes the field will be ready for baseball use next season.
“The plan is there, the money has been assigned, now it’s just a matter of waiting to get through winter and get to work on it,” he said.