Parks and Recreation Dept: Play ball!

Parks and Recreation Dept: Play ball!

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By MIKE COOK

Las Cruces Bulletin

Las Cruces has 18 baseball and softball fields and 28 soccer fields covering more than 100 acres. That’s a lot of turf for City Parks and Recreation Department Parks District Manager Rudy Trevino and his staff to prepare for the sporting season that begins this spring.

When kids take the field to play, “That’s why we do what we do,” Trevino said.

The players, their families and spectators don’t realize that it takes a crew of 12 full-time and eight to 10 seasonal employees to maintain the fields. They will mow the fields daily, water them, and pick up trash on a regular basis. They also provide daily maintenance and upkeep; plant and care for trees (the city has planted more than 4,000) that beautify and provide shade, as well as native plants and shrubs; and deal with any hazards on the fields that might cause injury to players or spectators.

Trevino and his crew also aerate the soil six times a year, do regular landscaping, use lasers to level infields, plant and fertilize Bermuda grass and remove weeds. They also landscape and use integrated pest management to control insects.

“In 2016, the City of Las Cruces Parks and Rec Department utilized a little more than 12 million gallons of nonpotable irrigation water to maintain over 12 acres of playing field at Paz Ball Fields,” said Rhonda K. Diaz, the city’s water conservation program coordinator. “This conservation approach further safeguards our drinking water supplies.”

The tools of their trade include eight full-size pickup trucks, two mowers (one large and one small), vacuums, aerators, seeders, and, of course, shovels, hoes, rakes and other hand tools.

The city’s total budget for ballfield maintenance and construction, including staff salaries and benefits, is $1.162 million annually, Trevino said.

And, the workload will increase this year, as the city begins a pilot program to make the ballfields available yearround to adult and children’s leagues and special events like the Friends of the Community candy drop each October and two annual dog shows, Trevino said.

City Parks and Rec also has an agreement with Las Cruces Public Schools for the maintenance of facilities and ballfields used by students.

“Our athletic field section, led by Rudy Trevino (manager), Phillip Flores, Tony Paz, do a fantastic job,” Las Cruces City Manager Stuart Ed said. “Las Cruces has some of the best ballfields in the state because of their hard work. Other municipalities visit us to learn about our maintenance schedule, best practices and scheduling. This is an example of the city’s role in economic development, enhancing our ‘quality of place’ to attract business and people. We need to aggressively schedule more tournaments and bring more people from throughout the region and country to come explore, experience and discover our beautiful community,” Ed said.

“The parks staff is passionate and highly knowledgeable about the work they do,” Parks Administrator Tim Fulton said. “They realize that their work is more than just managing and maintaining sports fields; they understand they are truly making people’s lives better. They understand their work plays a role in creating community, improving wellness and encouraging folks of all walks of life to enjoy the great quality of life we have in Las Cruces.”

The city’s oldest ball field is Apodaca Park, which opened in 1955. The newest is Ron Galla t-ball field, which is part of the city’s Hadley sports complex and was dedicated in 1991, Trevino said.

Learn more at www. las-cruces.org/en/departments/ parks-and-recreation/ parks/ballfields. Click on the Leagues and Associations link to learn more about the groups that regularly use city ball fields. Contact Trevino at rudyt@las-cruces.org.

Mike Cook can be reached at goodguymwc@q.com.

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