The batting cage for the Grande Prairie Cricket Association at Head & Salmond Park in Grande Prairie, Alta. on Monday, July 31, 2023. Homeowners complained to city council that the batting cage is too close to their homes at a July 24 council meeting. The city installed the cage earlier in May. (Photo by Jesse Boily) Jesse Boily

A group of residents is unimpressed with the new location of the batting cage at Head & Salmond Park in Grande Prairie.

The city permanently placed the cage, with a concrete base, in May. 

“It is a nightmare,” said Susan Schneider, whose home backs onto the park.  

“Nobody realized that there would be several cricket balls that miss the cage and fly into backyards.”

The batting cage is approximately 21 metres from the residential fences; before it was permanently fixed to a concrete pad, Schneider said cricket players would move the cage further away from their homes.

Now, when the cage is used, the noise is louder than before, said Schneider. Cricket balls are being found in people’s yards, and a view of the green space is now obscured by the batting cage for some homeowners. 

The current pitch is located on a storm pond so when locations for a batting cage were considered, an area where water would not pool was needed, said Katie Beiberdorf, city director of sports development, wellness and culture. This location was the flattest area that would still allow water to drain, she said. 

“I think the most frustrating part is they didn’t consult with the people,” said Schneider, who noted only seven years previously, a neighbour was looking to operate a small business out of their home and letters were given to all the neighbours to respond. 

Beiberdorf said that no engagement was necessary for installing this type of structure in its current location. 

“It’s a huge park; of all the places in that park, I literally think they pick the worst spot,” said Ken Westgarde, whose home is next to the batting cage.

Schneider suggests the cage’s location be moved to the park’s south end where there are no homes. 

A group of residents, including Schneider, wrote a letter and presented it to city council at the July 24 council meeting. The letter outlines the property owners’ frustrations with the location of the batting cage and their desire for it to be moved.

Additionally, cricket balls have been found in one neighbour’s yard, noted the group, which they believe could be a safety hazard.

The city has observed the usage of the batting cage to find out if it has safety concerns. 

“When hit properly, the ball does hit the top of the cage; if it’s not hit properly, it does come out but at a fairly lower velocity, and it’s typically rolling on the ground,” said  Beiberdorf.

Another safety concern noted by the group was that the cage points directly toward the playground.

Coun. Dylan Bressey said that although he believes it is a low risk that balls would end up near the playground, he wouldn’t want to be there if there was a chance of balls landing there. 

Coun. Wade Pilat said he believes cricket could have another location in the city and expand the sport in the city. 

“I would like to see either some changes on the site or, if that’s not feasible, then maybe it’s time that we find cricket a real facility,” said Bressey. 

Council directed administration to bring back a report outlining potential safety changes to the pitch and possible alternate locations. 

The Grande Prairie Cricket Association (GPCA) presented to city council in November requesting financial and infrastructure support at its pitch in Head & Salmond Park.

City council directed administration to work with the GPCA to assist in a site plan and find potential locations for additional pitches. 

Beiberdorf says other locations, such as north of Riverstone School, were explored but says the GPCA preferred their current location due to having enough space to have teams practice while a game was being played. 

Bressey said he hopes the city can find a spot for the GPCA that is their own where they can continue to host regional and provincial tournaments. 

The GPCA did not respond for comment before press time.

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 17, 2023 at 14:07

This item reprinted with permission from   Town & Country News   Beaverlodge, Alberta
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