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History repeats itself at Kenny Mac

Posted on May 15, 2019 by Taber Times

Approximately 20 years ago, volunteers stepped away from Ken McDonald Memorial Sports Park, with the dream of a quad of ball diamonds at the facility unfinished.

Talk to some of the the movers and shakers of the field society back in the day, and you will hear the frustration of mounds of red tape put up by the town that eventually had volunteers throw up their hands and say “I’m done…”

Fast forward to the formation of the Baseball-Softball Enhancement Society who resurrected the dream of making the multi-sport facility out in the area a complete one, by finishing off the fourth diamond.

The society’s first official appearance before town council was March 26, 2018 in which it unveiled its game plan.

That game plan would eventually come to a screeching halt with a motion passed after in-camera discussion on Monday, temporarily halting previously approved funding for the project by town council.

For anyone who has happened to grace either recreation board or town council chambers within the last year-plus where the ball society has made an appearance, tension has been noticeable for the most part by the volunteer group in trying to wade through various issues to make the project happen.

What issue that has put a temporary stop to the work being done on the diamond in which council previously approved $250,000 is anybody’s guess, given concerns were voiced behind closed doors.

Perhaps there were liability issues with insurance with non-town employees working out at the area in question.

Whatever the issue is, there has been more than a year to have it worked out in foreshadowing what issues may arise.

Maybe the ball society in the process has not had their Ts crossed and their Is dotted properly, but you also have to remember, this is a volunteer board, made up of family people with full-time jobs, not fully versed in the issues of municipal governance in project development.

There are plenty with that expertise at the town governance level, all of which earn a tax-aided paycheque who could of held the hand of the society to at least make the wading through the red tape a faster journey, given this has been a process that has been more than a year in the making.

In a world where every tax dollar has to be stretched to its maximum, the town has a society that was able to secure free labour and input cost-friendly supplies that brought in the project to well under what was originally forecasted with pricing from years ago.

The society provides the grunt work, council and administration has to provide the proper and timely guidance. Given the latest delay, those costs are for sure to rise with things like nearly $50,000 worth of work already done, and possible loss of top soil.
Spring is here and summer will soon be coming fast upon us. However long of a hiccup town council’s motion on Monday has brought, hopefully it will not mean the project has been pushed to 2020.

For you may very well have a group of volunteers, much like the one from 20 years ago throw their hands up again and say ‘I’m done.’

And once again the town will have missed out on an opportunity to have its recreation facilities improved by good old-fashioned volunteer help.

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