Baseball league in line for funds to finish park project

An ordinance to amend the City of Franklin budget would provide funds needed to finish renovation of the back two baseball fields at Caffery Park on Barrow Street and make repairs to the Center Theater on Main Street.
The ordinance introduced Tuesday by Mayor Raymond Harris during the city council’s monthly meeting allocates $100,000 of sales tax revenue to capital outlay in the general fund.
Of the total, $25,000 would be directed to the Caffery Park project with the remaining $75,000 going to the cleanup and repairs to the former movie house, the mayor said.
The council heard from Paul Frost of the Franklin Youth Baseball board of Directors.
“We’ve been working at Caffery Park for over five years,” he said.
During that time with private, business, city, parish and state funds, some $102,000 has been spent to upgrade “the public park that’s for all of our kids to enjoy.”
Three years ago, he said, the board used $35,000 of its own funds to redo the two front fields.
“Those two front fields are immaculate,” he added.
Work is now under way on the back two fields for which Frost said are being prepared for the organization of a new league for 13, 14 and 15 year olds and for a girls’ league.
Up until now there has been no place locally for either group to play baseball or softball, he said.
“We’re going to try to bring these kids back, give them a place to play,” he said.
Once complete, he said, the park would be able to bring in regional Youth AAA baseball tournaments which would be a boon to the local economy.
The project also provides space for a Wiffle and T-ball field at the park which has been in use since 1967, Frost said.
He added that the St. Mary Parish Council has provided $25,000 for the current project and the board has put up $10,000.
“So we’re $25,000 short of trying to get this project completed,” he said.
Harris said the funds are available in sales tax collections which are about $100,000 above budget projections.
“I want us to make some attempts to make some repairs at the Center Theater, to clean it up, to remove the debris, to work on the marquee,” Harris said while introducing the budget amendment ordinance which will be up for adoption during the council’s November meeting. “I think that this will be money well spent,” he said of the funds to the park.
The council also approved a resolution authorizing application for $100,000 in state capital outlay funds for the park that would be used to construct a press box on top of the concession stand and lay concrete in the parking area and surrounding the park.
In other business the council:
—Passed a resolution proclaiming Oct. 18-27 as Red Ribbon Drug-Free Week after hearing from committee member Pearl Rack on the week’s events. Operation Red Light kicks off the week Saturday with a motorcade of law enforcement and emergency responders traverse the parish with sirens blaring. The week-long celebration ends with the Parade of Schools and Zoo to Boo family fun day in Morgan City on the 26th.
—Heard from representatives of the Garden City Riders on their successful trail ride and Westwood Riders who will be sponsoring another such event on Nov. 9. More than 200 people from three states came to the area for the Garden City Riders event, the mayor noted. The council approved waiver of the open alcohol container law for the latter.
—Passed resolutions authorizing application for a $500,000 community development block grant to upgrade the water distribution system and contract engineering services on the same.

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