Excitement over the progress and transformation of Arctic Field was halted over the weekend after it was discovered the newly installed backstop netting, estimated at around $6,000 had been vandalized.
Arctic Field is the home playing diamond of the Winkler Whips senior baseball team of the Border Baseball League, and is undergoing a major multi-phase improvement project.
Josh Ginter, a Whips player and a member of the team's executive, said one of the biggest visual cues progress was being made, especially from 15th Street and Grandeur Avenue, was when the new backstop netting went up about ten days ago
Ginter said their excitement over the progress was interrupted, however, when the project's general contractor discovered eight big slashes cut through the newly installed backstop netting while walking through the site this past weekend.
"We've had a lot of fun, we put a lot of hours in, ever since August 15th, our sod-turning day," noted Ginter.
"Boy oh boy, has it been a transformation at Arctic Field. You know, the gravel is all gone. It's been built up the better part of two feet in some areas of just gravel and dirt, topsoil, and throwing on the sod on top and everything, it's phenomenal how good it looks. And one of the big points was when the backstop netting went up. That was one of the biggest visual cues, especially from the street of the progress that we've made."
"There's a thing about modern baseball fields, I would say, especially like amateur fields. Modern fields have that netting, versus the older ones having chain link fencing. And so when you see that modern netting you just know that somebody's paid attention to it. You know that somebody's worked on it recently. You know that someone cares. And so I think that's probably where this hurts the most, in fact, Pam. I would say that the netting itself is almost like a little symbol of kind of the progress we had made. And it sucked...that it had been vandalized so quickly."
Going forward, Ginter says they may look at a semi-temporary netting, or put up a net in spring and remove it each fall. He noted the committee is in the process of asking questions of other communities of what they do with their netting, and how they handle it.
"What's done is done," said Ginter. "We'll make our decisions of how we want to handle things moving forward, and maybe we can rally a little bit around it, and the community can rally around us as we fix it and redo it, and then look forward to the first pitch in the spring next year."
The Winkler Police Service confirmed to the PembinaValleyOnline.com they received notice from the Winkler Recreation Department on Monday, October 31st, the newly installed netting had been cut sometime over the weekend of October 29-30. The file is currently under investigation.