PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Port Neches

January 20, 2014

Port Neches Little League ballpark to see upgrades

PORT NECHES — Hundreds of baseball players and their families will soon descend onto the fields at Port Neches Little League as a new season begins.

Work on the lighting and fields has been undertaken over the past two years, and now officials with the league are looking to make more repairs and renovations, this time with some help from the Port Neches Economic Development Corporation.

“We’re expecting to have about 300 kids this year, but the problem is that the facility is really old. It was built back in the 1950s,” Chris Thurston, PNLL vice president, said, adding that the core structures are aging. “We’ve been putting Band-Aids on things, but fortunately we live in a city that wants to invest in the youth.”

PNEDC Board of Directors recently approved expenditure of funds to enhance and improve the infrastructure at the fields. And in order to expend the funds, under current state law, the Port Neches City Council is required to approve a resolution after two separate readings for any expenditures in excess of $10,000. City Council approved the first of those readings at a recent council meeting for a contribution not to exceed $30,000.

The project will include construction of a restroom at one of the fields behind the Effie and Wilton Hebert Public Library on Merriman.

Corey Belanger, league president, explained that the field actually consists of several fields with three existing restroom facilities — one at either end of the park and one in the middle. The one in the middle needs repairs.

Thurston and Belanger said the league does not have the funds to do the project, hence they approached the city and PNEDC.

“This is a project the Little League couldn’t afford on its own,” Thurston said. “We’ve been operating Porta-Potties for two years, and in a town like Port Neches, we pride ourselves on our youth and on athletics, and to have a facility like what we have out there is unacceptable. The EDC stepped in and bailed us out. Now we will be able to host regional tournaments. We weren’t able to do that before.”

The league operates with volunteers, and monies such as registration fees only covers part of the cost to operate the fields. Additional funds come form fundraising or donations, Belanger said.

PNLL had four divisions for ages 4 through 12 and a fifth division — a junior league — will be added this year for ages 13 and 14. If successful, another division will be added next year for 15- to 16-year-olds.

A second reading of the resolution will be held during the Feb. 6 city council meeting.

E-mail: mmeaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews

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