Jason Bartsch wants to improve opportunities for young ballplayers in Osoyoos. One way to do that, he says, is to build a better dog park.
The president of the Osoyoos Minor Baseball Association (OMBA) brought the association’s plans for the future of the game in Osoyoos to Council Monday morning, specifically proposing a dedicated minor baseball park for the West Bench and moving an existing dog park across town.
“Osoyoos has already developed the potential for two beautiful baseball fields in our community,” Dr. Bartsch told Council. “One has been outfitted as a slo-pitch field without a suitable baseball pitching mound on the field. The other has been converted to a dog park over the past several years.
“We would like to see the Town re-purpose the dog park back to a ballpark.”
The association, he added, doesn’t want to leave dogs and their owners stranded, however.
Dr. Bartsch suggested the park would be better located at the existing Kinsmen Park facility.
“The use of (Kinsmen Park’s) small soccer field is minimal in its current form and could be converted easily with a small run of fencing to a totally contained dog park,” he explained.
“Kinsman Park is walking distance to a large population of the town and would serve as a better location than the current West Bench Field dog park.”
The option, he added, would be the most cost-effective solution, noting much of what is required for a dog park — including an enclosed space — is already on site.
Relocating the dog park to Kinsmen Park would also improve that facility as an attraction, he argued.
“It also adds another reason for families to use the park and playground to include the family pet as well.”
The development of a West Bench minor baseball facility would benefit not just the 200-plus young athletes wanting to play baseball in Osoyoos but also the community in general, Dr. Bartsch said.
OMBA research suggests “first-class, top-calibre” spring minor baseball tournaments held in Osoyoos — a possibility with a minor baseball park — would add “1,000 room nights” to the community’s shoulder-season tourism draw and “heavily impact hotels and restaurants.”
Minor baseball, Council heard, cannot progress to the next level without a dedicated field. This spring, it moved its games to facilities in Oliver after teams in other Okanagan communities expressed concerns about playing on improvised fields in Osoyoos.
“Our goal is to advance our baseball program and facilities and work with all our user groups to ensure all our community assets are maintained,” Dr. Bartsch said.
Dr. Bartsch was joined in Council Chambers by a number of young ballplayers — identified as “future baseball stars of Osoyoos” — their parents and grandparents.
“Other than minor hockey, minor baseball is the largest organized youth sport in Osoyoos,” Council heard.
Council took the presentation as information and determined to forward it to Town administration for further review.
The OMBA is looking for quick action on the proposal.
“Our goal would be to have a bona-fide baseball facility by next spring,” said Dr. Bartsch after the presentation.