End of the ice age at Bowman Field
What lies beneath the former Airmen Pond at Bowman Field and how much will it cost the city when the damage, if any, is assessed?
That is what the Bowman Field Commission and Williamsport Crosscutters anxiously waiting to see revealed after discussing the issue at the commission meeting Tuesday.
Employees with Rink Specialists, of Naples, Maine, began to take apart the outdoor ice rink Monday at the historic stadium.
Justin Simpson, city recreation director, said he was informed the rink should be gone by the end of the week.
“The field will be in professional shape when they (Crosscutters) are ready to play professional baseball in June two weeks before their season starts,” said Mayor Gabriel J. Campana. “We will be fine,” he said.
Commission Chairman Lou Hunsinger Jr. said the first games are a high school tournament known as the Backyard Brawl, which is scheduled for May 11.
“We won’t know about underground damage, if any, until the city energizes the irrigation system,” said Doug Estes, vice president of the Crosscutters, which plays in the N.Y.-Penn League and has a lease agreement with the city that ends in 2014.
Estes, who spoke about the field status after the meeting, said the irrigation test is typically done by the city employees in early to mid-April.
“The chiller was unhooked three weeks ago, but the thought was to allow Mother Nature to melt the ice, and wait to disassemble the plexiglass and boards of the skating rink,” he said.
The city has deposited a $20,000 surety bond it received in installments from the Williamsport Outlaws, the team that played hockey games for the Federal Hockey League starting in Oct. 24, and Syracuse Junior Hockey Club, the nonprofit that operated the outdoor public skating at the facility. The bond is expressly to be used for the restoration of the field.
“My understanding is the city has contacted a landscaping contractor to regrade and resod the field where the rink sat,” Estes said.
“If it cost any more than that, unfortunately, it is on the taxpayers,” he said.
The city, meanwhile, is preparing litigation against the Outlaws organization. The vision of bringing the team and organization into the stadium and city was Campana’s, who is being asked to review the draft of the lawsuit to recover $52,000 in unpaid utility bills and rent.
City solicitor Norman Lubin said the city also is waiting to calculate if there is any further damage to the field drainage system and landscaping.
The Crosscutters’ opening home game is on June 18.
The commission voted on issues unrelated to the ice rink. Use of the ballpark was requested by Hughesville High School, an organization that wants to hold a yard sale and the Williamsport Area High School Band Parents.