BRADENTON -- It's been almost four years since the City of Palmetto Commissioners, along with Manatee County Commissioners, have been romancing the idea of a totally new ball field for the North River American Little League. After a couple of strike-outs and a few foul balls both teams of commissioners, along with the Manatee County School Board, are now in solidarity to break ground for the first pitch. Hopefully, by the end of this year we'll all be hearing,"PLAY BALL."
People from both sides of the river will tell you its been really frustrating to say the least. The old field had it's problems; almost no parking, which made it dangerous, and no infield grass, which kept other leagues from playing there. The new field is even scheduled to have a real concession stand.
Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant came south of the river with most of her commissioners in good faith, hoping to iron out all of the wrinkles that have been making this such a rough ride for all of those in waiting, mainly the kids. And she heard what they all wanted to hear when Manatee County Commission Chairman John Chappie said, "The only motion is to go forward," and they did, with a vote to approve, 6 - 0 (McClash absent).
Manatee County Commissioner Michael Gallen said, "We need it. Baseball is like apple pie. I remember David McDonald succeeded as port director because he said he went after things, even when there was no money." Everyone that has been involved with this ball park can relate to that.
Palmetto brought the down payment ($800,000) which is nearly half of the $1.7 to $2 million needed to complete the three fields, concession stand and parking lots, included in the plan. There is the possibility of a grant or two, some money from a minor land sale and the chance of a few bucks coming from the school board, considering the new fields will be adjacent to Palmetto High. But for now, the pay as you go is looking pretty good to all of the players.
Although both local governments are involved in navigating this project to completion, Manatee commissioners now have the lead. Commissioner Carol Whitmore promised, "We will get it done."