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A public hearing on the partial closure of Cates Street in Richmond might have found an agreeable compromise for all interested parties.
City Administrator Rick Childers told the audience the proposed closure is to accommodate a new combination shelter/concession stand with restrooms across from Legion Ballfield. Cates Street adjoins the ballfield and Maurice Roberts Park where the concession stand is to be built. According to Childers, the building must be 150 feet from an open road.
Childers and Park Superintendent Terry Dickey gave visual examples of barricades that could be used to halt vehicle traffic.
“We need to get emergency vehicles through this. The road won’t be torn out. It’ll just be vacating part of the street. Emergency vehicles would have keys (to gates) if needed,” Childers said.
Both Childers and Dickey said the move is to keep children safe at the games.
“I would like to see it done for the safety of the kids,” Dickey said. He said the cost, which would be picked up by the Parks Department, would be around $1,500 for each gate and $21,000 for the concession stand and restrooms.
Councilman Jim Dunwoodie asked if a variance on the setback of the concession stand could be requested. He also asked if the 150-foot setback was required for a residential road like Cates. Childers told Dunwoodie a variance could be done.
Richmond resident Jim Rippy said a year-round closure of Cates would devalue the Legion property and make access difficult.
“The value of the Legion property wouldn’t have value without street access,” he said. “We’re not young VFW/Legion members, either. No street is kind of hard and people probably don’t want a piece of ground that they can’t get access to.”
Rippy proposed that the street be closed to through traffic during ball season and stay open the remaining part of the year.
Dickey agreed with the suggestion and was in favor of a variance.
“If we can get a variance and the shelter there, that’s fine. We want to put what we have at Southview Park here (Maurice Roberts Park). ” he said.
Resident Carol Williamson addressed the council and thanked them for their decision to keep the stoplight at Institute and East Main.
“I was the young lady hit there (by a vehicle) in 1970,” she said. “I speak for my mother who would be in favor (of the street closing) during baseball season. That only lasts for a couple of months and a couple of hours in a day. The gates are a positive thing.” Williamson said her mother lives on Cates.
She also questioned whether concessions or items could be sold at Maurice Roberts Park.
Richmond resident A.J. Phipps said he also believes nothing could be sold at the park and proceeds would revert to the original property owners.
At yesterday’s Ordinance Committee meeting, committee chair Roger Kepple had the 1939 park deed in hand. One of the provisions of the land transfer was “only soft drinks, popcorn, peanuts and etc.” can be sold at the park at the will of city officials. The deed prohibits the sales and consumption of alcohol. The committee is constructing an ordinance that only city concession stands can sell soft drinks and snack foods at the park.