A group of North Delta’s slo-pitch baseball players is angry over losing their time at Delview Park following the approval of the city’s first cricket pitch.
In a letter to Delta councillors and city staff, former president of the Surrey North Delta Funball League Perry Coleman said he is “dismayed” that after holding opening and closing ceremonies and playing every Friday at Delview Park for 35 years, the players are forced to move to accommodate the cricket players.
Another group, the North Delta Mixed Slo Pitch League, also plays at Delview Park.
“I can assure you that at no time did Delta Parks ‘consult’ with or even talk to our league about how this may affect us,” Coleman wrote in his letter.
“In fact, not telling us until mid-March of the fact that they were not going to give us the parks that we have used for many years has left us in a position of not being able to get proper park facilities, and putting our season and the league in jeopardy.”
Last February, city council endorsed a plan by city staff to install the pitch between two baseball diamonds at Delview Park. According to the city staff report, there are some 200 cricket players in North Delta and the “lack of a cricket field in Delta is becoming more pronounced with the increasing interest in the sport.”
Delta’s director of parks, recreation and culture, Ken Kuntz, called the installation “relatively small” and said that previous consultations showed the soccer community favoured the Delview Park location over other suggestions at the time.
“In terms of [baseball] diamonds, we can certainly schedule the activities of both cricket and baseball in an unimpeded way,” Kuntz told council on Feb. 11. “All activities can occur, so we want to bring this forward in time for us to design it and install it before the spring weather.”
In an email response to Coleman’s concerns about the impact the cricket pitch will have on the allocation of the baseball diamonds, Kuntz told the Reporter that both slo-pitch leagues had been informed on Feb. 25 a new cricket pitch may have an impact on the field allocations.
“There is no interference with the ability to play ball at the site, but ball will not be able to play at the same time as cricket,” Kuntz wrote.
He said North Delta Mixed Slo Pitch was given the same times they had in 2018 for the upcoming season, while Surrey North Delta Funball has been “allocated 100 per cent of their requests at other North Delta parks.”
This, however, is not good enough for the current president of the Surrey North Delta league, Kim Stockburn, who said she was told by City of Delta staff to ask the City of Surrey for a field to play on. She said she did just that and Surrey “moved heaven and earth” to accommodate the league.
“As far as I am concerned it’s too late, for us anyways. We had to make other arrangements and Delta has taken Delview off the table, so 35 years of tradition for us [is] gone with opening and closing [ceremonies] being cancelled there,” she said in an email.
“At this point, I can’t back out on my promises to Surrey after all they did for us when we were left in the lurch by Delta.”
In his letter, Coleman said that Delta had suggested the two leagues could use school fields, but he argued those fields are not appropriate for league play.
“Delta Parks has actually suggested both ball leagues play on parks such as Cougar Canyon and Chalmers [elementary schools], where the fields are not long enough for adult players, and on all-grass fields such as Hellings [Elementary] and Seaquam [Secondary],” he wrote.
“North Delta has always suffered from an inadequate number of fields that were suitable for adult slo-pitch and fast ball. The schools did not seem to have the resources or determination to maintain their ball fields, which typically resulted in them becoming less usable for play and further depleting the number of usable fields in the community.
“I find it a real shame that the lack of consultation and communication by Delta could be the death knell for an active league that provided recreation for hundreds of participants over 35 plus years.”
Meanwhile, Stockburn said she is still reviewing the times and fields Delta has offered and has yet to sign off on anything, but she is not optimistic about it.
“There may be a day or a field I can take where Surrey couldn’t cover,” she said.
“Other than that, [it was] April 4th [and] we had to pay our league insurance. I wasn’t doing that without park allocations and Delta told us go elsewhere.”