WAYBA talks baseball field upgrades, including canopy, playground, backstop replacement

“We found out again this spring that there’s just a shortage of fields in general."

FILE PHOTO: Jason Turner.
FILE PHOTO: Jason Turner.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

WORTHINGTON — An ambitious plan to upgrade the District 518 baseball field on Crailsheim Road would include a backstop replacement, bleacher canopies, an entryway arch and a playground, as the Worthington Area Youth Baseball Association showed the Operations Committee of the District 518 Board of Education Tuesday morning.

The upgrades are estimated at $160,000, and WAYBA has raised about $115,000 so far, thanks to a large pledge from a local business and two $15,000 matching grants, according to Jason Turner, president of the WAYBA board. In addition, almost 50 individual donors have contributed in order to match the grants.

About 120 players are in the WAYBA program, from age 7 to the adults who play Legion ball.

Superintendent John Landgaard noted that District 518 has been incorporating rubberized flat surfaces into its playgrounds, which help make them more accessible.

He also asked about the possibility of fencing, which would prevent children from running into the parking lot as well as allow for some security at games that require tickets.


Tiffany Neugebauer, also of WAYBA, said the group is looking at adding a net system to the spectator area between the two baseball fields, so that spectators facing one direction no longer have to deal with the possibility of having a ball hurtling toward the back of their head from the opposite direction.

“We found out again this spring that there’s just a shortage of fields in general,” Turner said, noting that the girls softball program has had good numbers too, including in younger age groups, and that there is some competition for field space and practice time. “So all this isn’t meant to discourage any talk about adding other fields around the community as well, because I think it’s greatly needed.”

Adding fields nearby, as District 518’s long-term plans would do, would also create a stronger venue for tournaments in town.

“We’re actively fundraising through this season. It seems like that’s a really good time to raise funds, is when people are out there watching games and having a good time,” Turner said.

School board member Lori Dudley thanked Turner and Neugebauer for their presentation and said the school board planned to talk about facilities at an upcoming work session.

In other news Tuesday, the committee:

  • Received an update on the Crailsheim pond project, in which the school is partnering with the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District to build a large pond that would prevent phosphorus and sediment from reaching Lake Okabena, improving the lake’s water quality. Workers have completed surveying the property and easements enabling the watershed to build the pond on District 518 property are being drawn up, with a plan to begin construction in 2024.
  • Learned that bids for demolition of West Elementary are due Thursday. The project could begin in June, but bid alternates are being requested that push the date back to the fall in order to save money.
A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Phone: (507) 376-7319
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