If you’re having a family reunion and you want to pick sides and have a baseball game, 8 Oaks Park is not the place to go.
“It’s a tournament level baseball facility,” said Beth Goodale, director of county parks and recreation. “There’s nothing there but tournament level baseball fields. They’re not just recreational level pickup baseball fields.”
The main entrance to the park is blocked by a gate and the fields are all fenced in and locked.
“We have to keep those [fields] so they’re maintained for tournaments,” Goodale said, adding that county employees are on site every day doing maintenance work.
8 Oaks has already hosted at least five tournaments since it opened in July, including two this month.
The county plans to add soccer fields, walking trails and other facilities to 8 Oaks in the future. When that happens, Goodale said there will be more public access to the park, but not to the baseball fields.
According to the parks and recreation website, of the county’s more than 21 regional and community parks, at least nine have baseball fields, including East Bay, South Island, Lambertown and Wachesaw.
New fields are also under construction at Olive Park in Andrews and Retreat Park in Pawleys Island as part of the county’s Capital Improvement Plan.
Some residents have also questioned why the lights have been on at 8 Oaks 24 hours a day.
Goodale said there has been a problem with the timers but the manufacturer is working to correct it. Once the problem is solved, the ballfield lights will only be on when the fields are in use. Parking lot lights will remain on at night for security purposes.
At some of the county’s other older parks, security lights are similar to street lights and are controlled by the power company. The county pays a flat monthly fee for those.
The upside of the situation is that the power company is responsible for maintenance and repairs.
In some cases, a county employee is supposed to turn the non-security lights on and off and sometimes that doesn’t happen.
Goodale said the county has also had problems with people damaging timers or breaking into power boxes to turn lights on when they want to use the park.
By Chris Sokoloski
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