Parents upset with the conditions of the ball field in Buffalo Hills Park have taken their concerns to the city council.
At Monday's council meeting, girls' softball coach Mike Lambert listed the issues parents have with the field, the chief among them being the lack of running water.
In an interview later last week Lambert went into more detail, noting that along with the lack of running water parents were concerned about the lack of seating for spectators, the lack of rest room facilities, the condition of the equipment the girls use and the condition of the ball field.
"Like I said at the council meeting, I've played on better vacant lots growing up than what's in the outfield there at the Buffalo Hills field," said Lambert, noting the field condition and lack of running water are safety concerns.
Lambert also discussed what he felt were the inequities between girls' and boys' sports in Brainerd, noting specifically the difference between the girls' softball field condition and equipment and those of boys' baseball at Bane Park is phenomenal.
"I'd like some equal treatment," Lambert said, noting the accomplishments of the girls' softball teams this year with four teams winning their divisions at the state tournament.
Becky Brueland, whose daughter is a softball player, said she feels the girls aren't being looked at as true athletes like the boys' teams are. She said along with playing with shoddy equipment the parents have to provide the funding when the girls' teams travel.
One problem is being alleviated. Water is scheduled to be added to the park this month, said Tom Phelps, assistant superintendent of Brainerd Public Utilities. The Brainerd Parks and Recreation Department approached BPU about putting water at the park in mid-June.
"We're not ignoring the kids or the parks and rec department," said Phelps, noting the utility department has been under the gun this summer to finish several utility projects in the city.
Running water at Buffalo Hill Park also would solve the problem with the condition of the outfield at the softball diamond, parks and recreation director Bruce Ericson told the council Monday, since his crews could then water the field.
"It's impossible to keep grass without irrigation," Ericson told the council.
Chuck Vandeberg, maintenance supervisor for the parks and recreation department, said it takes time to develop new ball fields like the one at Buffalo Hills Park.
"Anytime you get a new ball field, the first couple of years it'll be rag tag," said Vandeberg Wednesday. "It takes a couple of years for them to come around."
Lambert said he is happy with both the city council's and the parks and recreation department's response to the running water situation and Brueland said she is glad the council, at the very least, listened to the parents' concerns.
About 240 girls played in the three girls' softball leagues -- Petite, Junior and Senior -- in 2002.
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