BY DEBBIE PAGE

Work on the two long-awaited baseball and softball fields at ESC Park is nearly complete, and the new fields should be ready for use by local youth athletic organizations hopefully by the end of February, according to Troutman Parks and Recreation Director Emily Watson.

The fields, located at the very back of the park, are complete, the fencing is nearly installed, and the dugouts are ready to go. The backstop poles are in, and backstop fencing will be completed soon. Bases will be installed after fencing is complete.

Watson hopes that sponsors and in-kind donations will one day make masonry dugouts a possibility on the fields.

Work on parking lot expansion next to the ballfields is expected to begin soon, with with initial grading occurring in early March. Watson expects that contractor Maymead will move quickly to complete the project.

Concession stands, an equipment storage building, and additional bathrooms near the ballfields and volleyball courts are next on the town’s agenda, at a projected cost of $300,000, but Watson hopes monetary donations, donated services, and sponsorships will reduce the cost to the town.

Watson is readying a sponsorship packages and naming rights guidelines for presentation to the Town Council for their input and final approval.

Proposed field usage rules are also being finalized. Proposed rules include requiring reservations for team use of field through the Troutman Parks and Recreation Department. The fields are to be utilized for softball and baseball games and practices only and cannot be used if wet to avoid damage.

Foul language or unsportsmanlike behavior is strictly prohibited, and violators will be asked to leave. No food or glass is allowed in dugouts or on playing fields, and all tobacco use is prohibited. Attendees should use caution and stay alert to flying ball hazards.

Only game personnel are allowed in the dugout or on field, and intentionally hitting any type of equipment into fence is prohibited to avoid damage. Throwing or slamming helmets or bats are also prohibited to protect others nearby.

All vehicles (bikes, scooters, equipment trailers, etc.) should remain in designated parking areas, and no pets (on or off leash) are allowed at the ballfields except for service assisting animals

PROPOSED NAMING RIGHTS POLICY

The council will soon discuss the following proposed naming rights policy to ensure open, fair, and consistent guidelines for naming facilities owned or leased by the Town of Troutman.

Facilities are defined as buildings, structures, parks, open spaces, and natural areas. Features and spaces within a facility (such as ESC Park) may be named separate from the facility itself.

When considering a proposal to name or rename a town facility, the proposed name should meet one or more objectives, including describing the function of the facility and/or assisting the public in identifying the facility’s intended use, recognizing a distinct geographic location, natural or geographic features, or local points of reference, or honoring outstanding accomplishments by an individual for the good of the community. The quality of the contribution should be considered along with the individual’s length of service to the community.

Other objectives of naming a facility might be to recognize an individual, group, or organization that contributed significantly to the acquisition, development, or operation of the facility and/or the features within the facility or to commemorate places, people, or events that are of lasting importance to the town, region, state, or nation.

The proposed name should also have a strong, positive image and stand the test of time and have broad public support and not be divisive. Decision criteria will include the proposed individual’s or group’s character, service to the community, leadership, and inspiration to others.

When considering a naming proposal, the town wants to avoid undue commercialization of the facility if it is accompanied by a corporate gift or sponsorship.

The town also wishes to avoid recognizing an individual, group, or organization that has already been appropriately recognized in other town facilities as well as names that are similar to other facilities in the community in order to reduce confusion.

Once approved, the facility’s name will ordinarily continue for the life of the facility. However, upon demolition, replacement, substantial renovation, repurposing, or other modification, the town may view the naming period as concluded.

Though discouraged, renaming an existing facility may be necessary or desired, but this process carries a greater burden since tradition and continuity of name and community identification are important community values.

Though a request to rename may meet all the criteria of this policy, the request does not ensure renaming.

In appropriate instances, such as with corporate sponsors, a naming right may be granted for a pre-determined term which may be renewed with the same or new name if desired.

If the reputation or character of an individual, group, or organization changes substantially to be inconsistent with this policy or not in the best interest of the town, the naming right may be revoked.

After a naming request application is received, the Town Council may choose to approve the request, deny the request, modify the request, refer the request to an appropriate committee, hold a public hearing or public comment period, or other action it deems appropriate.

After approval, plaques, markers, and memorials on town property must be in accordance with its standards. The location, size, font, and materials require approval by designated staff and should complement the existing facility and sign standards as well as regulations in the Town of Troutman Unified Development Ordinance.

All naming recommendations will be given the same consideration without regard to the nomination source.

SPONSORSHIPS

Watson is also developing a sponsorship program for various town events and facilities. After she presents the program to council for input on fees and rules and receives final approval, local business will have the opportunity to be associated with the positive benefits of a community event or recreational program.

Sponsors financial support help the town work towards a well-planned recreation system, with diverse and relevant programming and quality facilities which is ultimately beneficial to the business community.

In addition to participating in positive corporate citizenship, the business will gain greater visibility within the community to achieve marketing goals.

Sponsors will have the opportunity to gain business visibility in multiple locations, such as ESC Park, Town Hall, three town-owned Facebook pages, multiple public-hanging banners, the town’s website, flyers distributed in town, the WSIC Radio Show “Our Town,” the Whistle Stop newsletter mailed to each resident’s home, Town Council Meeting exposure, the digital marquee in downtown Troutman, and verbal recognition at specific events.

Watson hopes that sponsorship investments in the community will be ready for businesses to consider in the spring.

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