City plans to re-purpose Bringhurst, catches some by surprise
For years, Bringhurst Field has stood as the home of professional and amateur baseball in Alexandria. But as the teams came and went, the facility fell into poor condition, and this week the city administration started to make its move on what's next.
They've started tearing down the walls and scoreboard--the more than 80-year-old ballpark of course holds many memories for people throughout Cenla which is why some are upset to see parts of the ballpark torn down. But they're also upset there was no warning.
Jodie White has spent much of his life at Bringhurst Field and is upset to see the outcome.
"You don't want my reaction, this is stupid," said White.
White was worked with the ballpark since he was a child, with a wealth of memories.
"In fact Satchel Paige was pitching and I took a rocking chair and put in on the mound for him and he said who did this and he said oh I know who did this," said White.
Countless memories in the more than 80-year-old ballpark. Everything from high school baseball to the Alexandria Aces, a storied past.
But for White, he's worried about its future.
"I’ve been an avid guy with this ballpark all my life,” said White. “But there's a lot of things that could've been done with it but this."
The last time Bringhurst Field was used was in 2013 when the Alexandria Aces season was cut short for financial reasons, and in time the ballpark has deteriorated.
In a statement, Alexandria’s Community Services Director Robert Weeks said the outfield wall, side walls and scoreboard have been torn down due to "safety reasons." The plan now is to turn Bringhurst into a "green space" that's open to the public.
Weeks also said they've "secured" the grand stand and will keep that up to preserve for future use.
But it's how the demolition happened that left some upset.
"This was just thrown on everybody, nobody knew anything about it,” said White. “We have heard that this was going to happen that that was going to happen, but nobody would ever give me an answer."
"I'm disappointed that it was done so quietly,” said David Curry, an advocate for preserving the Bringhurst Field. “Very disappointed."
In 2014, voters passed a recreation tax to improve recreation throughout Alexandria. The city has said it would take a public-private partnership to renovate the ballpark as is and that other projects like a dog park and Johnny Downs Sports Complex were prioritized. We talked to then Community Services Director, Daniel Williams, late last year where he said the price tag for several projects would’ve equaled the renovation for Bringhurst.
"If you look at the priority use I think those things are very very important right now," said Williams.
"It appalls me to see our recreation tax dollars at work in that method," said Curry.
But the future of Bringhurst is still uncertain.
"I’m very unhappy,” said White. “If there was something I could do about it, I would do about it."
Also in the statement, Weeks said a September 2016 Bringhurst report states there can be "no option for zero action" due to public safety.
Weeks also told us they plan to have some sort of a grand opening for the green space at the end of May.