Calfee Park has been in the news and before the Pulaski Town Council more than once recently; the park, which the town is responsible for, has to upgrade some of its facilities or risk losing its right to participate in professional minor league baseball.
The Southwest Times went to Calfee and took a look around the facilities with Pulaski Parks and Facilities Director Dave Hart Tuesday to capture images of the problem areas and ask a few questions about them.
“By the nature of our contract with Pulaski Baseball, the town is responsible for all these facilities that make up Calfee Park, from the stands to the lights to the dugouts to the field itself,” said Hart of how the park is handled.
“There’s many different aspects of it, but this is the only one that we’ve been deficient on when we get a field review,” Hart said of the problem areas. “We get those every other year, and minor league baseball has given us a waiver on that for many years, and they just want us to have a plan and say ‘do it.’ They want it to get done.” The areas in question are specifically the umpire’s quarters and the visitors’ clubhouse.
Hart showed up to lead a tour through them wearing a Mariners cap and jacket. While some areas technically meet standards, overall the facilities appeared battered, worn and outdated.
The first stop was the umpire’s quarters, housed in a smaller, separate building. The space must be separate from any players’, coaches’ or managers’ area, Hart said, noting, “Even though the majority of the time the project’s been referred to as ‘the visitors’ clubhouse,’ it also includes the umpire’s quarters.”
“It requires two lockers, 36” wide each minimum, and 200 square feet of a room. So we don’t have enough square footage right here,” he said. “I’d say we have about 100, maybe, at most. They need to get in here and they’ve got a lot of equipment. A lot of times there’s an umpire supervisor that comes to games, and they’ve got to sit down and meet and whatnot. They don’t have to be luxe accommodations, but they do have to be clean and meet standards.”
Hart went into the visitors’ clubhouse, source in most need of renovation. Now geared for off-season use, its chairs (there are no benches) were neatly stored in locker spaces and maintenance equipment took up space on the floor.
“Five hundred square feet is the minimum floor space, and that’s not measured from wall to wall, but from the base of the locker to the base of the locker on each side,” said Hart, gesturing “And we only have about 300 right now. Also, we have to have about 38 total lockers. We have 33 now. If you ever come here when the team gets here and goes in, this place is full of 30 grown young men, it’s pretty tight, and it’s pretty uncomfortable. It’s the reason they’ve developed those rules and guidelines for square footage in the first place, is so that they can exist in here.”
Hart led the way to the showers, a small area just off the main locker room, and not connected to the bathroom. Six heads, which do meet requirements, were nonetheless in a narrow space. “While there’s not any square footage requirements of the shower, you can just imagine if there’s six good-sized ballplayers in here at once,” said Hart. “Six heads is the minimum of shower heads we’re required to have, but you can see, it’s obviously outdated – exposed piping, the lights, the ceiling – it needs work.” Hart estimates the ceiling was nine feet high but the area’s width was slightly less than six feet.
The bathroom proved to be similarly cramped quarters, offering only one toilet, two urinals, and one sink. Hart said that current requirements are at least two toilets, two urinals and two sinks; the space was apparently too small to add the necessary facilities as it stood. “This is the only bathroom for all of the players,” Hart noted.
The visitors’ training room had, Hart estimated, about the necessary 150 square feet and training table, and space plus hookups for a whirlpool, though Calfee does not have one. “The rules don’t say you have to have a whirlpool, but you do have to have room for it, and we do.” A battered metal desk also took up space.
The assistant coaches’, coaches’ and managers’ areas are all together at Calfee. The area is made up of a small office with lockers. “The rules say you’re supposed to have a separate changing area and a bathroom facility. We don’t have that (the bathroom) for them,” said Hart, who said that the coaches, assistant coaches and managers have to use the visiting players’ bathroom.
As far as the office went, Hart said that professional baseball rules did not have a set square footage requirement, but the space had to be big enough for four to six people having a meeting.
“These are two different buildings kind of connected, and that’s why we have that problem with the roof. “They would really have to squeeze in,” he said, and then drew comparisons between Calfee and other parks. “We have combined the assistants’ lockers, and the manager and everything all together in here. And what you typically see is, a separate changing area for the assistant coaches and the manager having his own separate office, that then he can call his assistant coaches into to have a meeting. So let’s say that this area was bigger here, you could move all these assistant coaches out here, and the manager would have his own thing there.”
Outside, Hart indicated a smaller, narrower section of the clubhouse building that he would like to see demolished and replaced, putting an umpire’s room on the end, but with a separate entrance. The rest of the building would be devoted to the visiting team and fulfill the professional baseball requirements, with an area devoted to maintenance and storage. His proposed plans were detailed in a diagram presented at last week’s town council meeting.
As far as town council’s input, Hart says, “I guess it’s too early to tell. We don’t really have any good figures for them yet, because they can’t really make a decision until we do. But I think they’re thinking of a certain amount, I guess, and they need to be thinking where, if any, the funds can be found for that. And as I said in the meeting the other night, I don’t know where we go from here. We’re still gathering figures on that.”
He mentioned a “Plan B,” suggested by Councilman Greg East, which was to make more use of the existing building but extended in the opposite direction, which would cut into current maintenance quarters, which would also be extended further out in that direction. “That would sort of flip-flop my idea. The new building wouldn’t be as big, it would be just for coaches and the umpire, and the existing area would still be for the players. I just try to develop a little smaller and less costly plan. It may be more sellable, but I don’t know how. It won’t be as user-friendly as my first design, but we’ll see.”
Coming next: a look at the financial side of Calfee Park.