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 The ballfields at Kenning Park are scheduled to get a makeover this spring worth $737,000.

The ballfields at Kenning Park are scheduled to get a makeover this spring worth $737,000.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Kenning Park ballfields to get makeover

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 12, 2019

BIRMINGHAM — June is expected to bring more than just the first day of summer this year — it will also bring the official game of summer.

Birmingham city officials plan to redevelop two of the four existing baseball fields at Kenning Park, on Lincoln Street, the site of Birmingham Little League baseball.

The Birmingham City Commission voted 5-1 Feb. 25 to approve proposed upgrades to the fields, with Commissioner Mark Nickita dissenting and Commissioner Stuart Sherman absent.

Birmingham Public Services Director Lauren Wood presented the plan for the park redevelopment to the City Commission, a plan that includes the installation of new fencing and new concrete walkways from the parking lot and between two of the four fields, which will be realigned and rotated into a pinwheel pattern, backstop to backstop, to improve drainage. Also planned are the installation of new player benches, new safety netting for protection from foul balls and new scoreboards.

The $737,000 endeavor will require a little more than half of the bill to come from public funds; Birmingham Little League will pay $315,000.

“The redevelopment of the two baseball fields at Kenning Park is another step in our ongoing work to reinvest in the existing infrastructure in the city’s parks,” said Wood in a prepared statement. “We are grateful for this partnership and long-standing relationship with Birmingham Little League and look forward to the improvements at two of the Kenning Park baseball fields later this summer.”

Phase one of the work took place in 2014 and included the reconstruction of a parking lot and landscape improvements along Lincoln.

Nickita argued that phase two isn’t detailed enough in planning for extras like trees and pathways that will be needed to complete the entire vision in the future.

“The issue that I have is the apparent lack of understanding of where we’re going with this,” he said during the meeting, before ultimately voting against the plan. “Where are the trees? Where are the paths? Where are the access points and all the other things that should be in this plan? This is kind of a piecemeal situation. We don’t plan incrementally and we don’t implement incrementally. We start with a big idea of what we’re going to do and eat away at it. This, in my mind, is a piecemeal manner, and it’s not consistent with how we do things.”

Commissioner Rackeline Hoff and Mayor Patty Bordman echoed these concerns, but they were advised by Pat O’Neill, of Birmingham Little League, that the project is pressing, since the grant from the league has been made available now.

The approved redevelopment plan will be completed by WCI Contractors of Detroit, which won the bid for the project. The work will mark the second phase of enhancement work at Kenning Park and fulfills the Kenning Park concept master plan approved in early 2014.