Mike Anderson, Deseret News
Crews started to demolish the Riverton Main Park on July 5, 2013. Parents, players and coaches are upset because they say were supposed to meet with city officials on July 16 to see about stopping the demolition. The city said it has a contract with the baseball league. The contract had a 30-day notice of cancellation, and the city said it gave proper notice to the league.
RIVERTON — Renovations to the Riverton Main Park were supposed to begin in late August or early September, but on Friday, the city started tearing up six baseball diamonds.
That has coaches, players and parents upset.
Many parents and players had been hoping to put a stop to the demolitions. The city said it had to start renovations as soon as possible and it kept its part of the leasing agreement with the baseball league.
The demolition is part of a total renovation project of the Riverton Main Park. The city has set a goal of opening the new park in time for 2015 Riverton Town Days for the city's 150-year anniversary, according to a statement released by the city.
Riverton officials said they entered into a lease agreement with an “accelerated” baseball league for the use of four diamonds in the Main Park. Knowing that planning for the renovations was underway and construction could begin at any time, a 30-day notice of cancellation was in the agreement.
“A proper thirty-day notice of cancellation was given to and accepted by the private company which operated an accelerated baseball league on the leased fields,” the statement said.
Utah Select Baseball said they were told public comment on these plans would be taken at a meeting on July 16.
"They weren't supposed to be touched until Aug. 15," said Bob Melanson. "Me and my son came here all the time to pitch, to play."
"It's what we do," said Candice Vansickle, a baseball mom whose family is affected by the demolition. "We're all just baseball fanatics. All of the moms, the parents, our life revolves around this."
Vansickle's husband coaches and her sons play. "It's my favorite sport," said her son, Bryson Vansickle.
"My son cried all day long," said Teveka Melanson, another mom to a player. "This is where he practices with his friends. This is where my whole family comes on a regular basis to bond and enjoy a great pastime."
The city says the park has become substandard and obsolete in many ways. It has decaying buildings with leaking roofs, inadequate electrical capacity, broken sewer lines among other things. Knowing the park would need to be renovated, the city said it built nearby C.R. Hamilton Park sports complex. The sports complex has six baseball fields, four football fields and a concession stand. The park also has an indoor pavilion that can be used for private functions.
“It’s just horrible that the city took them out without letting the public have a say in it,” Teveka Melanson said.
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City officials said the public had several opportunities to give input on the park renovation, citing four meetings in 2011, three updates and a presentation given in 2012 and three other meetings in 2013.
"Six ball diamonds were created with the construction of the C.R. Hamilton Sports Complex in 2010, fully replacing the ball diamonds in the Main Park renovation," the statement read.
The renovations will continue as scheduled to meet the city's 2015 goal.
Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc