The Pleasant Valley Recreation and Park District denied a motion Wednesday night that would have authorized district staff to draw up plans for a baseball field at Freedom Park in Camarillo.
Staff members would have studied the cost of putting a playing surface, irrigation system, backstop and fencing in the northeast corner of the park. The estimated $60,000 cost was far less ambitious than a $250,000 plan approved by the board last April.
The earlier approval, for a full-fledged stadium, was contingent on a $500,000 donation by the city of Camarillo. The city declined to participate and the plan fell through.
Advocates of a stadium, which would have been used by the Ventura County Gulls and possibly by Camarillo and Rio Mesa high schools, wanted the district to make the first move by approving the construction of the basics of a ballfield.
“The vote was foolish if the reasoning was that we weren’t committed,” said Ken McMullen, part-owner of the Gulls. “Obviously, we could make a commitment for additional facilities.”
The board, which voted 3 to 2, apparently believed that if the district went ahead with a basic field, more public expenditures would be forthcoming.
Said district chairman Gary Gasperino: “If I send my wife to the mall with a credit card and tell her to only buy a dress, I know darn well she’s going to want shoes and a handbag to go with it.”
Joe Yaeger, the board member who made the motion for the field, argued that the field would be useful even if no additional improvements were made.
“If everything fell apart after approval of this, it would still be used by youth teams and local high schools.”
Jim Jevens, president of the Camarillo Stadium Assn., told the board that private funds were available to put in bleachers and lights.
“If you give us this basic field, we will come up with amenities necessary for completion of the project,” Jevens said.
Following the vote, Jevens added that the stadium group would probably appeal to the board at a later date.
“They want to see concrete commitment in the form of cash from the private sector,” he said. “We will provide it.”
McMullen and Jevens still maintain that Freedom Park is the ideal location in Ventura County for a baseball stadium.
Said McMullen: “The land is available, we could put in lights, it is centrally located, there is ample parking and beer could be served.
The timing of the denial was unfortunate, according to McMullen. “It’s very discouraging because this takes away from the excitement of opening day,” he said.
The Gulls open Friday against Reno at Ventura College.