City, county improving baseball fields at parks

Jan. 26—The city and county parks departments are both upgrading lighting at baseball and softball fields used for sports tournaments.

The county is installing LED lights at its fields at Panther Creek Park, and the city parks department is replacing light poles and installing LED lights around the fields at Jack C. Fisher Park.

The county's tournament season is not expected to be affected by the work.

City Parks and Recreation Director Amanda Rogers said tournaments scheduled for late-February and mid-March are being advised to not schedule night games. The light work should be finished in March.

County Parks and Recreation Director Ross Leigh said contractors are installing the LED lights at three of the park's six baseball fields. The Owensboro firm of Norman King Electric is doing the work for $673,000.

"The lights that have been on the diamonds have been there since the park opened" in 1992, Leigh said Wednesday.

The lights on three of the fields have been replaced, but this is the first time the county has used LED lights at the fields. Leigh said it was critical to maintain proper illumination on the fields, as tournaments that use the fields have lighting standards that the host fields must meet.

Leigh said previously the LED lights will reduce electricity costs, and the lights can be directed at areas of the field that need it most.

This year, tournament season at the fields begins in mid-April and runs through October.

"It should be done by the first of April," Leigh said.

City commissioners approved the bonds for new light poles and LED lights at Fisher Park earlier this month. The city is allocating $1.4 million to the project, although the bid came in under the city's budget.

Rogers said poles and lights at the park have been is use since the mid-1980s and have rusted components.

"Those poles are 35 years old" and at the end of their lifespans, Rogers said.

The park's first softball tournament of the season, hosted by Kentucky Wesleyan College, is set for the end of February. Rogers said directors for the early tournaments have been told to plan only daytime games, though cold weather usually confines play to the daytime in February and March.

"In year's past, they are always done playing before it's dark," Rogers said of the Kentucky Wesleyan tournament. "We are working with the tournament directors the first few weekends, telling them not to plan on playing in the evening."

By the time those tournaments take place, "if we are not done, we should be close to done," Rogers said.

"As far as our (construction) schedule, I feel good about what we're doing and where we are," she said. The lights are "going to be another nice asset for years to come."