Ballfields project to begin no later than July
June 29, 2022
Construction on a long-delayed ballfields redevelopment project will begin in earnest no later than late July after surveyors reportedly have finally completed their work.
During the Tucumcari Public Schools board meeting June 20, assistant superintendent Dave Johnson said tracts for the baseball and softball fields have been plotted, and the Tucumcari city commission will pass a resolution donating those fields to the school district by late June or late July.
City Manager Mark Martinez also mentioned during a June 16 city commission meeting that surveying on the ballfields was essentially complete.
Veronica Hernandez, a member of the district’s central office staff, said once the city passes the resolution, demolition on the current ballfields can begin immediately.
Voters approved a $3 million bond issue in February 2019. The project has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the complexity of surveying the site, which includes three landowners, before the city-owned fields can be donated to the district.
Several board members, including Jerry Lopez, have expressed frustrations over the delays.
“It’s been dragging too long,” Lopez said during last week’s meeting.
Tucumcari High School girls softball coach CJ Oglesby also vented his frustrations during the public comments portion of the meeting last week. He noted the condition of the current softball diamond is “flat-out embarrassing,” with mesquite and cacti in the outfield and rocks on the infield. He also said two players have suffered concussions on it.
“We need to get the fields going,” he said. “It’s been in your hands way too long.”
Also during public comments, Christopher Birch also urged the project get started, noting he has a boy in baseball he hopes can play one season on the new field.
Another complication with the project is cost. The estimated price tag for the redevelopment has swelled due to inflation and supply-line shortages.
Johnson said fewer interior furnishings in the concession stand, for example, can cut the cost. But he acknowledged some construction items might need a second bond issue — a prospect Lopez has resisted in previous meetings.
Lopez said once the fields are finished, he hopes the baseball and softball coaches won’t have to spend as much time on upkeep as they do.
“It shouldn’t be their job to maintain the fields,” Lopez said. He also suggested the district hire an additional employee for that work.
Johnson expressed confidence the new baseball and softball diamonds would be in better shape under district control, noting the good condition of the football field at Rattler Stadium and a nearby football practice field.
Board member Matthew Pacheco said if upkeep on the new fields begins to slip, the public should “hold us accountable.”
TPS superintendent Aaron McKinney did not attend last week’s meeting. Johnson said he was ill with COVID-19.