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Wednesday , 14 April 2021

Lac La Biche Minor Ball weigh in on McArthur Park plans that leave out main diamond

Lac La Biche Minor Ball is balking at the idea of removing the main diamond at McArthur Park, which is an option as the county explores what to do in the future with the park.

Stacey St. Jean, executive director of minor ball, made a delegation to county council on Feb. 23 to nominate the main baseball diamond in Lac La Biche to be designated as a Municipal Heritage Site.

“The main ball diamond is situated on very valuable land. Land with special visual and sentimental meaning that has historical significance and has been recognized as an important development space as the Town of Lac La Biche as evolved,” said St. Jean to council.

Two design concepts have been presented to council for the future use of McArthur Park–one that keeps the main diamond that has been around for over a century, the other that removes it and expands for leisure and unstructured recreation with green-space, picnic areas, a group-use shelter and a skate park.

These designs were brought back to council in February after the hired consultants presented options that didn’t include keeping the diamond, which the mayor and some councillors disagreed with.

Council members decided to allow public input on the designs to see what the community felt.

Although there is three diamonds being developed at the Bold Centre, a sports expansion announced last August, Minor Ball president Ali Fyath is concerned that removing diamonds from McArthur Park would leave ballplayers in the same boat as before.

“With the review of this new plan, it’s going to tie our hands even more if we remove those two diamonds,” he said.

The new Bold Centre diamonds are estimated to be done around early to mid-June, depending on weather and sod conditions.

Options were discussed about further engaging with the local school boards to see if ball diamonds on their property could be used as well.

“The problem is if you take out three ball diamonds from where McArthur Park is, you’re just adding three ball diamonds. Well, we’re still short of diamonds,” said Moghrabi on The Day After Debrief.

“It’s no secret, I’m a big supporter of keeping the main diamond. There are some things with the heritage. I mean, now that it’s been brought to our attention, then we will see what all the protocols are.”

County council made a motion to leave the heritage site nomination with administration, while also directing staff to consult with the Minor Ball Association, Northern Lights School Division, and Lakeland Catholic School Division to explore options to improve and add ball diamonds on school properties.

Residents have until Friday to give feedback on the McArthur Park plans.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.