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Committee bats around softball netting needs

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This general concept drawing of the netting needing at the Charlie McVay Memorial Softball Complex at 1500 N. Grand Ave. was presented to Roswell city councilors at the General Services Committee meeting on Oct. 24. (Graphic courtesy of the city of Roswell)

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The Roswell City Council’s General Services Committee recently discussed the netting needs of the Charlie McVay Memorial Softball Complex.

No formal action on the matter was taken by Councilors Juan Oropesa, Savino Sanchez, Jacob Roebuck and Angela Moore, who arrived after this topic was discussed at the Oct. 24 meeting. Chairman Sanchez said the conversation will continue in this month’s meeting, near the end of the month.

Kevin Dillon, the city’s project and facilities director, showed a general concept drawing and explained that the cost for the netting at the complex was estimated to be $300,000 or $350,000, with large poles, to cover the spectators and the two-story structure in the center. Dillon said the netting would have two-inch openings, rather than one-inch openings usually used for baseballs, to allow snow to fall through the holes and to retain softballs. He also said the engineering cost prior to construction would be $4,500. Dillon said the project duration was estimated to take two or three months for design, followed by six to nine months for construction.

Oropesa and Sanchez stressed that the netting was needed years ago. According to the meeting’s agenda, four phases of improvements and costs were developed for the complex in 2006 and the costs were updated in 2012 with phases 3 and 4 incomplete.

Sanchez stated that the start of the softball season is in April. Oropesa asked about the financial aspects of paying for the netting, whether it would have to be postponed for the year. Roebuck said a solution to keep the project moving forward is to allocate the $4,500 for engineering to get plans done.

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Elizabeth Gilbert, director of administrative services, said the amounts were not budgeted for this project in the current fiscal year and it would require a budget adjustment if the council wants to pursue it. Oropesa questioned what the perception would be for the city if they made budget adjustments near the mid-year budget, when other projects were in line for budget adjustments.

A mid-year budget meeting is planned for January or February.

Finance Director Monica Garcia said that during the last fiscal year, the city had only $300,000 in cash-on-hand, which is normally over $1 million, and she asked the committee to be aware of this fact if they decided to ask for a budget adjustment. Garcia clarified that the cash-on-hand is not the reserves — with one-twelfth of the city’s income as required by the state — which she said was at “a little over” $3 million.

“When we look at projects we have to remember that we cut $5 million out of the budget last year to get us to where we needed to be and this particular item was requested during our budget cycle …” Garcia said. “I’ve been here for a few years and we’ve talked about this … if we’re going to rearrange some projects we need to really look at that with (City Manager) Joe (Neeb) and make sure that’s feasible because we didn’t cut out some projects that other departments are requesting before this.”

Neeb said the city is keeping these projects in mind for the mid-year budget meeting in January or February and, in the meantime, he and staff would work to make adjustments for the $4,500 engineering cost. Gilbert said she would work with Jim Burress, Parks and Recreation director, about identifying funds within his department.

“I was really surprised when we found that there were no city dollars actually contributing to the plan in the first place,” Neeb said. “It was all the CIP (capital investment plan) money, so I think that what slowed it down in that process because they put it on the plan and then they left it there and then it fell off the plan.”

“I know there is a lot going on as far as in the city that we have to take care of,” Sanchez said. “There’s a lot — I see a lot going on. But my thought is that we when we start something, let’s finish it. This should have been finished a long time ago. We shouldn’t be discussing this even now. It should have been done a long time ago. Anything that comes up as far as that needs to be done or comes up as a priority, let’s finish that completely and then go on to the next instead of repairing, putting bandages on it instead of just doing the job completely. This is why I bring this up. I’d just like to see it get done.”

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.