by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At its Oct. 18 meeting, the Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) announced an increase in the Sewanee Community Chest (SCC) goal to $128,535, 10 percent higher than last year.
“We received an increased number of requests,” said SCA Vice President David Michaels. Ruth and David Cobb will serve as the SCC stewards for the 2017–18 fund drive. The $128,535 budget will provide financial assistance to 30 groups and organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life in Sewanee and the surrounding vicinity.
Dixon Myers, who addressed the SCA in March, returned to propose a solution to the Community Park’s dilemma. The SCA spearheaded the recent renovation of Elliott Park. When the SCA learned the Sewanee Ballpark was in deplorable condition due to lack of maintenance, the organization sought Myers’ advice. Myers had coordinated the 2003 campaign to renovate the ballpark. His involvement with the University Office of Civic Engagement dates back to 1991.
“Sewanee isn’t a municipality, so facilities management is complex,” Myers said. Assisted by representatives from youth baseball and soccer, the University Physical Plant Services, and concerned community members, Myers conducted an overview of the parks serving Sewanee and singled out four as true community parks: the Sewanee Ballpark, the Community Center Park, the Phil White Dog Park and Elliott Park. Myers then put together a budget addressing renovation and maintenance needs for the four parks.
Citing the ballpark’s pressing need for renovation, Myers said, “80 to 90 percent of the budget is allocated to the ballpark.”
Myers recently learned from Duck River Electric all the ballpark lights needed replaced due to damage from a transformer failure.
“All other University facilities have lights,” Myers insisted. Replacing the lights, cost $45,000, makes up more than half of the $93,000 budget for refurbishing the ballpark. Myers estimated maintenance at $13,000 annually.
Sewanee Little League has some money to contribute to the renovation, Myers said.
SCA secretary Megan Roberts pointed to the University’s generous support with the Elliott Park renovation. The SCA raised more than $62,000 for the park equipment and installation, while the University did all of the site preparation.
Sarah Marhevsky suggested the Sewanee Community Council Funding Project as a possible revenue source.
Confident funding could be found, Myers said, “The ballpark renovation can and will be done. Fifteen years ago, we raised $70,000 for refurbishing it.”
Marhevsky raised the question of liability.
“When children sign up to play Little League, they’re insured by the program,” Myers said. “If you’re working as a volunteer, I want that to be the University’s responsibility.”
Myers has drawn up bylaws and assembled a working committee of two representatives from youth baseball, two representatives from youth soccer, two community members, and two representatives from University Physical Plant Services. A meeting with Provost Nancy Berner is set for Nov. 1.
“Our pitch to the University is ‘you help us get it going again, and we’ll keep it up,’” Myers said.
Asked about his stepping forward in a leadership role in forming what he tentatively calls the Sewanee Parks Commission, an independent entity separate from SCA, Myers cited the model of Housing Sewanee, which he helped found. “I care about these things,” he said.