Town workers wrapping up work at Berkeley Oval

Town workers wrapping up work at Berkeley Oval

Town worker Jason Tetreault, left, rakes out the new top soil beyond the right field foul line at the newly redone Berkeley Oval baseball diamond on Martin Street in Cumberland last Friday. (Breeze photos by Ethan Shorey)

CUMBERLAND – With some minor contract work to restore the baseball field at the Berkeley Oval still outstanding, Mayor Jeff Mutter told Highway Supt. Frank Stowik to just get the job done.

Stowik said this week that the work had gotten bogged down a bit as too many people became involved, and he and his crew have taken care of some last tasks to complete the work on a field that’s been closed for almost 15 years.

“We’re getting it done,” he said.

Mutter said highway workers did a great job doing some final grading, including finishing of the infield and leveling the areas behind the foul lines. “Whatever you have to do” is what Mutter remembers telling Stowik about completing the stalled job.

Mutter said he was surprised to learn from Parks and Recreation Director Mike Crawley last Saturday that the town won’t be using the lighted baseball field at Berkeley Oval this fall, but instead will run baseball at Tucker Field. Given the newness of the sod, Crawley wanted to keep people off the field for the time being, the mayor said.

The field was lined to make sure everything was measured to regulation, said Stowik on Tuesday. He said he’s still holding out hope that the field might open this fall if the grass planted last week takes hold. Some seed washed out with Monday’s heavy rain, he said, so workers were back on Tuesday putting down more seed and laying hay down on top of it to protect it.

Mutter told The Valley Breeze in July that the field needed to be open this year, allowing the field at Diamond Hill Park to be a multi-use facility, but he’s now going along with Crawley’s preference that no one use it just yet. But, he said, getting the work done now will ensure that the field won’t be delayed again next year and will be ready for the spring sports season, meeting the town’s need for new field space.

Mutter sees plenty of multi-use field possibilities at the Berkeley Oval, which is located on Martin Street near the redeveloped Berkeley Mill. There’s all kinds of space in the outfield to host multiple sports.

“David Ortiz couldn’t hit one out,” he said.

The reshaped Berkeley Oval is designed to be a multi-purpose field, with the backstop moved back far enough to allow 300 feet needed to accommodate soccer, football and lacrosse. In addition to the Boys & Girls Club, the field will be used by middle school baseball and town recreation teams.

If certain vendors owe the town work as a result of highway workers jumping in, Mutter told Stowik that they can work that out later.

This has been a joint effort of the town, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Rhode Island, private companies and others.

Former Mayor Bill Murray said last year that he expected the Berkeley Oval to be open by the spring of this year, but that timeline now appears to be pushed back by a year. The facility was originally shut down around the time today’s high school freshmen were being born after a trace amount of naturally forming arsenic was found in a section of soil.

This project, including moving the backstop, adding lights, installing fencing and putting in sprinklers, was funded through private donations and a $180,000 grant secured by the Boys & Girls Clubs through the Champlin Foundation.

The Berkeley baseball field as it appeared Monday, nearly completed.