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Clarksville snags ball tournaments, must fix ball field

SoVaNow.com / January 23, 2013
The Town of Clarksville can look forward to a busy summer at the ballfields with the arrival of two major Virginia Dixie Youth tournaments in June.

Jason Claiborne, president of Clarksville Dixie Youth, Inc., told members of Town Council on Tuesday that the Town has been selected to host the tournaments — softball for girls, baseball for boys — on consecutive June weekends. He asked for Council’s help in fixing up Robbins Field, which will host the games along with adjacent Shaver Park.

Calling the Dixie events “an exciting opportunity for boys and girls between the ages of 4 and 19,” Claiborne said Robbins Park “is crucial to their success,” but is badly in need of repairs. A quick recent walk-through revealed uncovered rotting doors and door frames, broken windows, aging carpets, peeling paint and broken lights in the light towers.

“Our facility is our face, and with upwards of 2,000 people coming to the tournaments, we need to put our best foot forward. It is a make-or-break moment,” said Claiborne.

The Clarksville Dixie Youth organization is spending time and money to restore the playing fields, provide new bases, sod and sand. But, the organization lacks the funds to repair the press box/concession stand building and the light towers, said Claiborne.

For that, it needs the support of the town.

Before asking Council for financial assistance, Claiborne shared the economic impact for the town from hosting these tournaments. “We are hosting 44 softball and baseball teams. If we just look at teams of 12 players and three coaches, that’s over 600 people. Now add family, friends and neighbors, and we anticipate seeing up to 2,000 people in a two-week period.”

Claiborne continued, “Tournaments like this can sustain our program for several years. They also benefit the town, local merchants and area hotels and restaurants. The visitors need places to eat and sleep.”

Shaver Park, the facility used by the Dixie Youth, is not large enough to handle the tournaments, Claiborne said.

Robbins Field is one of the last standing testaments in Clarksville to a textile empire begun by Karl Robbins, the owner of Robbins Mill. He built the ballpark in the 1950s for the millworkers who made up a local team called The Hawks, a black semi-pro team that existed in the 1940s and 1950s.

Council members present at the meeting expressed a desire to support the request. Mayor Kevin Allgood suggested that Council’s Building and Grounds Committee work with the people from Dixie Youth and Richard Elliott’s maintenance staff to assess the extent of the work and the cost.

Vice Mayor Connie Torres said fixing up Robbins Field is “important for the pride of our players.” Bill Nunn said he hoped that the town could do a better job of maintaining the ballpark once repairs are completed.

In other business, Operations Director Richard Elliott said the town’s water line project — installation of new water lines in parts of Clarksville — was complete, except for some cosmetic work. “I am aware that some yards need grading and seeding, but this work will have to wait until the spring and better weather.”

Elliott commended Harman Saunders for the quality of the work, ensuring that the project came in on time and slightly under budget.

The Southwest Improvement Project “is on schedule,” added Elliott. “New sewer lines have been installed from 8th Street to the Rockhouse [a house located on 8th Street], and sidewalks are complete on the south side of Market and west side of 9th.” Seeding or sodding in the median will not take place until the weather improves.

Elliott added that his department is “looking at the cost of adding new sidewalks from 9th Street to Virginia Avenue along 8th Street to Virginia Avenue. We may come back to Council for funding if the cost is feasible to finish sidewalks on those areas.”

Interim Town Manager Charles Lee reminded Council members that the Commission on Local Government will be in Clarksville Jan. 28 and 29 to complete the annexation review process. Commission members will tour the area being annexed during the morning of Jan. 28. Beginning at 2 p.m., they will hear presentations by representatives for Clarksville and Mecklenburg County, and at 7 p.m., the public can offer their comments on annexation to Commission members. The presentations and public hearings will be at the Clarksville Community Center on Willow Drive.

The following day, Jan. 29, the Commission will hold a special meeting and a regular meeting to conduct its business.

Council also approved a request by the Clarksville Lake Country Chamber of Commerce for $8,425 to create and maintain a town website focused on promoting tourism. The site will include a calendar of events.

Finally, Elliott said that the newly purchased “bucket truck” caught on fire while removing the town’s Christmas decorations. He said he was waiting to hear from the insurance department before purchasing a replacement. Elliott believes the estimated value of the truck to be somewhere near $25,000 or $26,000.

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