By Greg Price
After several starts and stops, the dream of a fourth ball diamond out at Ken McDonald Memorial Sports Park looks like it is finally coming to fruition.
A ceremonial sod turning happened last week at the park, where the Taber Softball and Baseball Enhancement Society has partnered with the Kinsmen Club of Taber as the point organizations to get the fourth diamond done with the help of $150,000 from the town allocated to the project.
“It’s nice to see that we have been able to come up with a plan with the town and the Kinsmen to get the diamond work done and get that park finished,” said Suzanne Peters, president of the Taber Softball and Baseball Enhancement Society. “We looked at different organizations that would work well with us that have a lot of members (Kinsmen) and some were originally involved with the original Ken Mac plans and some are still involved in softball and baseball with their kids. Kinsmen seemed like a good fit with that connection.”
The fourth diamond will be on the northwest portion of the park and will be an exact mirror size and dimensions of the Ken McDonald southwest diamond. The enhancement society has been able to enlist donated labour from M.D. of Taber crews along with community-minded businesses around the area to help deliver the construction of the diamond at a much cheaper rate than was first estimated at by the town.
“The plan is to stay well within budget and have a little wiggle room where the town has released $150,000 for now. What our hopes are is we work with the town to use the remaining funds that were allocated to continue on with finishing off the rest of the park, not just the diamond. Things like a concession and washrooms which would be available for everyone to use at the park,” said Peters. “When it’s 30 above out there and there’s not a tree in sight or any shelter, it’s hard for small children and families to be out there watching when there is no shade. Even just to make it wheelchair accessible and make it a little more accommodating for everyone. It would help all the user groups out there.”
With Ken McDonald Memorial Sports Park having a full quad of diamonds, Peters added it will have the ability to attract more teams/tournaments to the area, attracting outside dollars.
“The hope is to attract more weekend tournaments and some of the user groups will be able to use the diamonds as well. We want to improve what we have as well,” said Peters. “Having only a a partially completed complex out there for the last 20 years has been trying. We’d like to see that finished.”
Peters added, the fourth diamond at Ken McDonald Memorial Sports Park should be fully functional by Spring 2020.
While not seeing huge amounts of growth in some areas, numbers for ball sports have been solid in Taber overall.
“Our adult softball league has been pretty steady. We have a dozen teams with roughly 20 people per team. The user group with some of the Mennonite softball has been booking the diamonds. There is a large demand for the same size of diamond we use at Ken Mac and Confederation Park,” said Peters. “With the younger kids, it has been pretty steady with Taber Minor Baseball numbers.”
Peters is very thankful for all the volunteers that have stepped up to make the project a reality.
“It’s great to be able to work with the town and the user groups to provide more recreational spaces for our community,” said Peters.