Ball Field Search Stagnates

Almost no progress has been made toward acquiring additional ball fields to accommodate the Blythewood Baseball League (BBL) and the Blythewood Recreation Center’s five new girls’ softball teams, according to Bob Mangone, chairman of the town’s baseball field committee. Mangone was appointed last spring by Mayor J. Michael Ross to chair the committee charged with identifying potential additional fields.

There are only three ball fields in Blythewood and they are owned by the Richland County Recreation Commission. Mangone wants to find four more. He said he is trying to find the owners of a 1-acre lot adjacent to the current ball fields. Mangone said that lot would provide one field, but after three months, he hasn’t been able to find out who owns the lot and whether they would sell it. Last summer he suggested the council might ‘take’ the property through eminent domain.

In August, Mangone said he was also looking at 8 acres behind Bethel-Hanberry Elementary School that is owned by Richland School District 2, but this week said that he has not had a chance to ask the school about using that acreage.

James Brown, Executive Director of the Richland County Recreation Commission, which owns Blythewood Rec Center, said the Commission plans to ask the School District to allow the girls’ softball teams to play there next spring.

An agreement was reached for the softball and baseball teams to share the three Rec Center fields during Fall Ball.

With 15 BBL teams playing Fall Ball, and only five softball teams, that works, but in the spring there will be 35-40 BBL teams and more softball teams. Mangone said something will have to be worked out before then if everyone is going to have a field to play on.

While Mangone had promised a public forum on the issue in both August and September, he said the forum is now on hold.

Bill Trapp, president of the BBL did not return calls from The Voice, and Jeff Brown, who organized the girls’ softball league at the Blythewood Rec Center and has recently been promoted to Program Director over all the County Rec Centers, was also unavailable for comment.