Nearly a curveball thrown into plans for new bleachers at Duncan McLellan Park in Owen Sound, but they will proceed.
In a recorded vote at Monday's meeting of 4-3 – city council approved a recommendation to award a $202,000 tender to Harold Sutherland Construction for the construction of new bleachers at Duncan Major and related concrete work.
A city staff report explains the new bleachers will include accessible and adaptive seating with an unobstructed view. The expected life span of the new seating is at least 25 years.
The accepted bid was the lone one submitted -- and is more than $78,000 higher than the city budgeted for the project.
Bleacher replacement at Duncan McLellan in 2019 had a budget of $125,000 -- funds allocated directly from the city's sponsorship agreement with Coca-Cola.
Two former fastball players sitting at the Owen Sound council table took opposing views on the contract.
Coun. Scott Greig voted against the project. He cited concerns with the amount it was overbudget and the need for new bleachers altogether. He says there are more pressing needs to make Duncan McLellan a finer facility rather than just spending an "egregious" amount on bleacher upgrades.
"We need fencing repairs, we can do improvements to the backscreens at Duncan South, we can do improvements to the outfields in terms of levelling out the fields which have began to tumble and roll over the years," Greig explains.
Deputy Mayor Brian O'Leary voted in favour of awarding the tender. He says it's important to have a great facility to attract tournaments to Owen Sound.
"When it comes time to make upgrades to the ballpark, we have to step up and do it," O'Leary explains. "We need those teams to come. We have slo-pitch. We have fastball. There's all kinds of tournaments in Owen Sound."
"And the economic spinoff is worth talking about," continues O'Leary. "Our hotels are filled. Our restaurants are filled. And lots of families come into the city for tournaments."
Councillors Brock Hamley and Carol Merton also voted against the motion. Councillors Marion Koepke and Richard Thomas, as well as Mayor Ian Boddy voted in favour.
According to a city staff report, funds will be re-allocated from other areas and reserves to cover the overage for the bleacher replacement project.
The report explains $25,000 that was underspent from facilities and parks projects this year will be applied to the shortfall. Council also approved drawing just over $28,000 from the parks reserve and $25,000 from the facilities booking reserve for the additional funds needed.