bloomfield

Bloomfield softball official seeks increase in parks budget

Members of the Bloomfield Youth Baseball teams the Misfits and the Warriors face off in a game on Thursday at the city ...more
Members of the Bloomfield Youth Baseball teams the Misfits and the Warriors face off in a game on Thursday at the city fields on South 1st Street in Bloomfield.
Jon Austria/The Daily Times

Story highlights

  • Bloomfield Youth Baseball is doing some of the maintenance at city fields in Bloomfield.
  • Three parks department employees were laid off in November 2016.
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League says field maintenance has suffered after budget cuts

BLOOMFIELD — Bloomfield’s budget cuts have led to maintenance problems at its sports fields, according to an officials of a local softball league.

“Sandy Koufax Field is full of goatheads and stickers,” said Autumn McMurry, the Four Corners Fastpitch Bloomfield representative. “The infield has grass in it.”

The softball program offers teams for children ages 5 to 18. The league includes Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield and Durango, Colorado, teams. The league contracts with the various cities for use of the sports fields.

McMurry asked Bloomfield to increase its parks department budget, which was one of the departments hit during budget cuts about two years ago.

The city of Bloomfield laid off six full-time employees and two part-time employees in November 2016 to make up for reduced gross receipts tax revenue. Three of those full-time employees worked in the parks department.

The gross receipts tax makes up the majority of the city’s general fund. The reduced revenue was linked to the downturn in the oil and gas industries, which make up the majority of the city’s economic base.

Bloomfield Youth Baseball players Joseph Olsen, left, Dax Heckman and Ben Lewis cheer on their team ...more
Bloomfield Youth Baseball players Joseph Olsen, left, Dax Heckman and Ben Lewis cheer on their team the Misfits during a game on Thursday at the city fields on South 1st Street in Bloomfield.
Jon Austria/The Daily Times

Fastpitch coach David Rightmire said the people who work in the parks department do a good job, but they do not have the funding or the staff to properly maintain the fields.

“When they’re hamstrung, it’s kind of hard to do the job,” he said.

As an example, he highlighted the locked batting cages at the softball fields complex in Bloomfield.

“We’ve got a wonderful set of batting cages down there,” he said.

Rightmire said he had to take his team to Farmington and pay to use batting cages at Strike Zone, a training facility. Rightmire said there is no one to unlock the batting cages in Bloomfield so his hitters can take swings there.

Last month, the city asked the Bloomfield Youth Baseball league to provide some of the maintenance on the baseball fields.

The automated batting cages are locked on Thursday at the Bloomfield softball fields complex on ...more
The automated batting cages are locked on Thursday at the Bloomfield softball fields complex on South 1st Street in Bloomfield.
Jon Austria/The Daily Times

During the March 26 City Council meeting, Public Works director Jason Thomas said last year the baseball league paid the city to hire a seasonal parks employee.

Thomas said the seasonal parks employee ultimately did not meet the league's needs because it took too many man-hours, and there wasn't enough time to train the employee.

The youth baseball league will use city equipment to maintain the fields, according to its agreement with the city. Field maintenance was not something included in the softball agreement, according to the document the city signed with the league.

“Sporting events within our city are extremely important to our kids,” McMurry said. “They don’t have a movie theater. They don’t have a bowling alley. They don’t have anything else. They have sports.”

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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