By Dave Taylor
After a mysterious collapse last May and a protracted fight over insurance payouts, a new baseball facility is going up beyond right center field at Vastwood Park.
Workers from Graber Post Buildings were putting metal siding on the building that, at 96 feet long and 44 feet wide, is 12 feet wider than the one it replaced.
“They made it wider than the original building to accommodate another tunnel net for batting,” said Mark Garvin, the maintenance supervisor for Hancock County schools, which leases the baseball field and shared the cost of the building rebuild.
“They wanted 48 feet, but it was difficult to give them 48 feet because the existing real estate there, there was fill rock and we would’ve had to fill that in to support a structure of any size,” he said. “So I think they just kind of came to the conclusion we can do 44 feet and still allow them to have another lane in there for batting.”
Both the school district and the county had insurance covering the previous building when it collapsed, but the school’s policy originally refused to pay on it saying it had studied the building and that it had collapsed due to faulty construction. Volunteers had built it for the team in 1998.
Later though, the school’s insurance split the payout with the county’s insurer, and the replacement was back on track.
With the plans to increase the size, the fiscal court and the school board both voted to add up to $25,000 each to the project, added to the approximately $110,000 insurance payout.
“I don’t think we’ll hit that point. I think we’ll stay under that,” said judge-executive Johnny “Chic” Roberts. “That’s the goal anyway and I think we will, the way it’s looking.”
While it’s bigger, most of the building will be the same as the previous one.
“Essentially what’s going in it is the same thing that was in it before,” said Garvin.
It will house a locker room, bathrooms, two batting tunnels and a pitching lane, with the nets over the batting areas retractable via overhead cables, which will open up the area for fielding ground balls or whatever else the team needs to do.
Insulation will moderate the temperature inside, as will a heater that will be installed after the bid is awarded.
At the moment the floor is concrete, but depending on the budget it will be covered in something much more baseball friendly.
“The plan is to install sports turfing,” he said.
To save money the school is doing some of the work inside and school board member Ricky Johnson is donating the labor for the plumbing.
“We still have some finish work with the bathrooms inside,” Garvin said. “I think our goal was to have this complete around an August timeframe.”