Woodpeckers stole the light from Blanchard Park athletic fields, but Columbia County officials hope to soon replace the illumination and hold night games there again.
John Deere employee Willie Childs aerates a baseball field at Blanchard Park, on Dewey Drive off Belair Road, where three fields will soon be getting new lighting.
Photo by Valerie Rowell
"The woodpeckers hit the light poles about five years ago," Columbia County Recreation Manager Charlie Beale said Friday. "We had to take all the poles down because of the woodpeckers. And we are looking at redesigning the lighting system over there and putting up new poles."
A $4,200 proposal for electrical design services was approved in an Aug. 8 Public Works Committee meeting and was slated to go before the Board of Commissioners, where it was expected to be approved Tuesday. The design will include lights for two baseball fields and a soccer/football field, Beale said.
In the five years since night games could be played at Blanchard Park, those games were transferred to Patriots Park, which is feeling the effect of the extra games.
"We didn't have lights down there, so we had to shift games up to Patriots, which has put an undue burden up at Patriots (Park) because of the number of games we've had to play (there)," Beale said.
Kevin Lear, Columbia County's Construction and Maintenance Division director, said that once the design is complete and the $180,000 project is approved by commissioners, it won't take long to get the lights shining again. Lear said he hopes to have the project completed by the end of this year.
Another Recreation De-partment proposal for new fall sports equipment also was expected to be approved at Tuesday's County Commission meeting. The proposal for just more than $27,000 in sporting equipment was passed through the Aug. 8 Management and Financial Services Committee meeting.
The equipment replaces worn equipment and helps prepare for the rise in children registered for fall sports, said Mike Brodhecker, the county Recreation Department facilities supervisor.
"Our football program has been jumping from the last two or three years," Brodhecker said. "Last year, we jumped six teams, that's 120 helmets (over) last year alone."
The purchase will include football and soccer equipment including shoulder pads, T-shirts, jerseys, soccer balls, goals and 140 football helmets to replace worn equipment and to keep up with, Brodhecker said.
"We phase in and phase out with the age of equipment," Beale said. "We usually get about five or six years out of stuff before we have to replace it."
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