|Berkshire Blaze Seek A Field Of Their Own|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
03:16AM / Friday, May 18, 2018
|The Berkshire Blaze looks to clean up the field off of Park Street and make it their new home.|
Cory and Jessica Bazinet received approval from the Parks Commission on Tuesday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Blaze girl's softball league are planning to turn one of the fields at Wahconah Park into their new home.
The Parks Commission on Tuesday approved letting the league fix up the little league field along Park Street by eliminating the baseball pitching mound, creating a dirt infield, repositioning the benches, cleaning and painting the backstops, and flattening out the foul territory.
Then, they'll use that at their home turf for tournaments and league play.
"We're thankful to have the opportunity to have a space to clean up and kind of make a home for us," said Jessica Bazinet, of the league.
Cory Bazinet told the Parks Commission that the work would get underway soon. He said materials are being donated and city workers have agreed to help. But, the majority of the work will be done by the players and the parents in one weekend.
"I could see us going in on a weekend and at least getting it prepped," Cory Bazinet said.
The league had been somewhat wandering previously. Last year, the Blaze did the same thing at Lakewood Park. There, the former baseball field was in disrepair and in a weekend, renovated the field. But, with two leagues - an under 12 and an under 14 - and travel teams, the Blaze needs more room.
"We're looking to expand," said Cory Bazinet.
The Wahconah Park field, however, doesn't come without some complications. Mike Merriam has been running "Wednesdays at Wahconah," a baseball program for the youth in the neighborhood for the last seven years on the field. His program is aimed at children who don't tend to be involved with youth sports.
"We try to focus on kids who are often stuck behind the PlayStation," Merriam said. "This is something these kids will never experience. These kids don't get to do anything, let alone baseball."
On Tuesday, the Parks Commission requested he look at possibly using other fields, such as one at the former zoo area of Springside Park. But, Merriam said communication with many of the children is difficult and most walk to the park. His league is also expanding from two teams to four.
"We have so many kids there sometimes it is hard to control," Merriam said, saying he added two more coaches to help out.
But, the Blaze then said the field should be ready for use before Merriam's summer league starts. The two leagues vowed to work together to share time if there are conflicts.
Ultimately, Merriam said that will help the field overall. He said when he arrives he often is picking up the mess left behind by people who used the park for nefarious purposes. He said the extra field use by the Blaze will ultimately help clean up the park.
Parks and Open Spaces Manager Jim McGrath agreed, saying, "we are trying to turn the corner with some of these parks that have had a bad rap over the years."
Eventually, the Blaze has their sites on putting up an outfield fence. However, the city's Conservation Commission did not support that in the wetlands area.