Whitefish Bay baseball's booster group is proposing to install artificial turf in the infield of Cahill Park's baseball diamond.
Friends of Bay Baseball hopes to raise $150,000 from donors toward the $200,000 turf project, and is requesting funds from the village and school district to help out with the project. The Whitefish Bay Village Board agreed to provide a requested $50,000 contribution Tuesday night, and now the group plans to go before the School Board.
Carl Fuda, the head of the Junior Dukes youth football program, made the request to the village. Fuda said artificial turf would reduce maintenance costs and make the field more durable for the wide variety of sports groups that use the field. Artificial turf would also allow sports teams to use the field even after it rains.
"Our fields are in disrepair," he said. "If we put field turf in, they will be able to run on them and they will see more use."
Not to mention the infield of the baseball diamond is also a common area for pesticide usage — a hotly contested subject in the village.
Trustees voted 5-1 to make a $50,000 pledge, with Trustee Richard Foster voting no and Trustee Jay Miller absent from the meeting. Foster said he prescribes to Dick Allen's famous quote, "If a cow can't eat it, I don't want to play on it."
Fuda said Friends of Bay Baseball plans to start fundraising on Oct. 1 and meet its goal by September 2013.
Storm water retention project
Meanwhile, an engineering consultant is working on in to reduce the amount of storm water hitting the streets of the flood-prone portion of the village.
The would lower the northern end of the grassy park area by eight to nine feet. Further to the south, between the baseball diamond and the playground equipment, the ground would be lowered two to three feet. The park would lose some level surface on the perimeter, allowing four feet of slope per each foot lost in elevation.
Rain water would be diverted away from the high school baseball diamond. The park's softball field, used by the junior varsity team, would no longer meet WIAA standards.
Tom Davies, speaking on behalf of roughly 25 sports parents at the meeting, asked the Village Board to table the storm water retention project until all stakeholders can agree on a plan. He also encouraged the village to work with Friends of Bay Baseball on the artificial turf project.
"If this project proceeds as planned, it will radically alter the functionality and aesthetics of Cahill Park, and will eliminate and compromise valuable playing fields that are heavily used by the young athletes of this village," Davies said. "Furthermore, it will set a precedent where the preservation of designated public park space could be jeopardized by village infrastructure projects or other unplanned potential uses at the discretion of the Village Board."
Trustee Brenda Szumski said she was receptive to the village helping out with the artificial turf project, but wanted to know more about how the storm water retention project would fit in with the plan.
Trustee Laurie Rollings asked Fuda if the artificial turf would be able to absorb storm water, and Fuda said a sandy base — six to nine inches deep — would underlie the turf and would be capable of absorbing some water.
But for the most part, the baseball diamond would not see much rain water unless it rained more than six inches in a 24-hour period.
"As designed, a 100-year storm would not inundate the infield," said Village Engineer Dan Naze.
No action was planned on the stormwater project and none was taken Tuesday.