“Dive for that one,” someone says to laughter after the squeal of a baseball bat launches a ball into clear blue skies at the Tyee Ball Park.
The players, however, aren’t members of a typical softball team. On Friday, representatives of the City of Kamloops and Tk’emlups te Secwepemc gathered to play a quick inning of slo-pitch to celebrate the newly renovated ball diamond, which re-opened thanks to their joint effort.
The Tyee Ball Park, located alongside Highway 5 North, just south of the Halston Road/Paul Lake Road intersection, had fallen into disrepair over the past three years, with weeds filling in the infield clay and spray-painted graffiti covering many of the structures.
In an effort to restore the baseball park, the band approached the city in June, seeking assistance and expertise with the rehabilitation.
Using $30,000 in sewer utility taxes that are collected from Tk’emlups residents, the renovations were completed in a two-week span, culminating in the council to council competition on a hot July morning.
“We just got our public works and civic operations people working on it with their civic operations group and this is the result,” Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian told KTW.
The facelift involved landscaping the infield and outfield, repairing fencing, slapping on fresh coats of paint on the dugouts, washrooms, announcer stand and covered seating, replacing some roofing, laying shale and repairing the irrigation system.
A new sign at the entrance of the ball park has also been added.
“City crews and the graffiti task force and people from our planning and engineering did an awesome job getting things ready,” Tk’emlups Coun. Jeanette Jules said.
She believes maintenance of the park was neglected over the years due to a lack of use, but the reasoning from the band now was that if it was repaired, people would come and use it — a very Field of Dreams way of thinking.
“We own this, we all need to take care of it,” Jules told KTW.
Funding of a summer student program that helped maintain the field in the past had stopped flowing as well, Jules noted.
But the ball field will now have a steady stream of annual maintenance funding moving forward.
The city and band’s jointly managed sanitary sewer reserve fund, which paid for the rehabilitation project, will be used to supply $15,000 per year for annual maintenance as the fund is designed to support recreational opportunities.
Jules said some people from slo-pitch leagues had been using the field in the past, but expects much more use now.
Tk’emlups Chief Fred Seymour lauded the band’s relationship with the city as one of which other cities and bands are envious.
Christian said the good relationship between the city and the band doesn’t come by accident.
“We work at it and it’s certainly been one of my priorities to take the relationship to the next level,” he said, citing agreements with the band that include sanitary sewer and fire service.
“We listen to each other and we respect each other’s jurisdiction and I think that that gets us to a place where we can do projects together that really enhance the lives of citizens on their side of the river and our side of the river,”Christian said.
Those who want to play ball at the refurbished Tyee Way Ball Park can book a time by calling the Tk’emlups band office at (250) 828-9700.