West St. Paul to boost baseball digs

5 new fields coming to Harmon Park

Come next summer, Harmon Park is going to look and feel completely different — set up with five new baseball parks, a trio of new buildings, and a few new other additions. Perhaps more importantly, the city of West St. Paul will finally have a ballpark specifically designed for youth baseball. 

Of the five new ballparks, four of them will be regulation sized, designed for kids ages 12 and under. The parks will also be usable for softball games. 

This is sure to make a number of people happy, but perhaps none more than John Pelano. Pelano joined the West St. Paul Athletic Association in 1987, and is now the acting baseball commissioner for the group. His vision for the city always included a youth ballpark. 

“My dream has been to have a place where kids can just play baseball. A facility just for kids,” he said. “I don't know too many cities who don't have a baseball park for children. For the most part, they have a softball field, a Little League field, or maybe both. It's just nice for kids to have their own place to play.”

Pelano had kept in touch with the West St. Paul Parks and Recreation Commission throughout the early stages of the planning process, but had not seen the newest updates since the Aug. 11 approval of the construction companies.

Meisinger Construction will handle the majority of the building improvements, while Max Steininger, Inc. will be handling the site improvements for the park. They both won bids after an original attempt at a single bid for both projects fell through. 

The new site's additions will include baseball fields, a new warming house, a community building, and a concession building. 

Ready to go

Planners say they're especially eager to get going, given the one-bid/two-bid setback.

“The pre-construction meeting happened, so now we're just setting up the timeline,” said Dave Schletty, the city's assistant parks and recreation director. “The contractor said planning should start later this week or early next week. We're definitely glad to finally have it started.”

Early plans had also included one outdoor hockey rink, a football/soccer field hybrid, and a new playground with a splash pad.

The basketball court will be reduced from a full court to just a half-court, based on early outlined drawings. This will all be rounded out by a 159-stall parking lot. 

The contract states the overall project is expected to be complete by July 2015, with the buildings' construction finished by May 2015, but Schletty said both contractors are “confident” they can finish before the scheduled deadlines.

You can reach Tim Faklis at 651-748-7814, at tfaklis@lillienews.com, or on Twitter @tfaklisnews. 

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