The Bedford County school board has approved funding for upgrades to the baseball field at Liberty Lake Park in case construction of the new Liberty High School gym starts before baseball season.
According to officials, the new school gym will be constructed in the varsity baseball field’s current location. A new varsity field will be built at the new Liberty Middle School, which is also set to be constructed.
But the construction schedule may leave the varsity baseball team without their home field for the 2017 season.
Concerned baseball players and parents attended Thursday night’s school board meeting, where the issue was discussed.
“Baseball is the only sport I play, and they started talking about putting the new gym on the field, so I didn’t know if they were even going to have baseball at Liberty High School,” said Lucas Honaker, a Liberty High School freshman.
School board member Martin Leamy said he hopes the contractor for the project can stagger construction of the new middle school and new high school gym so the students can use the current field at their school in 2017 and the new field the following year.
If construction conflicts with the baseball season, the team could play all of their games away or use the field at nearby Liberty Lake Park in Bedford as home turf, Leamy said. But he believes having no home games is not an option, he added.
“They go to school to learn…and if you’re driving to all of your games at a different location, that’s time away from your studies; that’s time away from your family,” Leamy said.
Leamy approached the town of Bedford about using Liberty Lake Park, but the field needs upgrades to accommodate a varsity team. The town has proposed improvements, including sodding and new fencing, for $60,000, which the town council, school board and county board of supervisors would fund together evenly, Leamy said.
The town council has voted to contribute its $20,000, Leamy said, and now the school board has unanimously voted to contribute its share as well.
“It’s a collaborative effort amongst the three elected bodies of this county to solve a common problem,” Leamy said.
Next, the board of supervisors will need to approve its share of funding for the project at its next meeting later this month.
“I’m hoping that they make it so that we can play on it at the varsity level,” Honaker said.
According to Moseley Architects, who is working on the new gym and middle school, contractors will place bids on the project later this month.
Once a contractor is chosen, Leamy said, then it will become clearer if the school gym construction starts before or after baseball season.