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Wadsworth schools looking to net foul balls

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WADSWORTH — With foul balls flying, Wadsworth Schools is looking to install protective netting at baseball and softball fields.

At Monday night’s meeting, the board approved a proposal for a barrier netting system for the fields.

“We are asking Motter & Meadows (Architects) to create a structure for us that will create a pretty tall netting system on both the baseball and softball fields ...,” Superintendent Andrew Hill said.

Hill said the netting system could be up to 50 feet tall.

“The issue is we have foul balls that seem to be happening on a larger frequency,” Hill said.

Hill said baseballs and softballs are flying into the area used for discus throwing, they have smashed vehicle windows, and it is a hazard that the district wants to address.

Hill said he did not mean to sound cold or callus, but parking close to a ballfield is a known danger drivers risk.

“Other things like being a spectator over at the track stadium, being a student who is out there running a race or doing events in track and having to dodge foul balls are things that probably go a little bit further than do at your own risk,” he said.

Hill said the Canton-based Motter & Meadows Architects will provide the drawings of the proposed structures, and guide the district through the bidding process for their construction.

It then would be up to the board of education to accept a bid for construction, Hill said.

“The hard part is, the cost, from what we gather, costs we anticipate, we may be looking something that is $100,000 or more,” Hill said. “We don’t know that, but based on the preliminary estimates for just portions of that work, when we extrapolate it out, that it is not hard to believe that’s where it could end up.”

Hill said the project would be funded through the district’s maintenance fund, which contains more than $2 million.

During a special board meeting in 2014, it was agreed that the maintenance and sales tax fund should be kept at a threshold of at least $1.5 million in the event of any unexpected large projects, Hill said.

“Not that we are looking to burn money, but we have money that we could use for this purpose that will still keep us well above where we targeted to be for unexpected projects,” Hill said.

Hill said even if the new netting structures were put in place, there is no guarantee they will eliminate the problem.

“It is hard to stomach spending that much money for something that is not going to 100 percent stop the issue, but we don’t believe there is anything that is going to 100 percent stop it that is a viable solution,” he said.

“We also believe we feel like we have a responsibility to do something, because what currently is happening has gotten to a level that we just don’t feel comfortable with.”

Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at (330) 721-4050 or nhavenner@medina-gazette.com.
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