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LAGUNA NIGUEL : Youths to Play Ball on Improved Fields

Come spring, the days of patching up gopher holes and fighting a faulty irrigation system will be over for parents of ballplayers in Rancho Niguel Little League.

New sod outfields and improved irrigation are just two of the changes slated for the Crown Valley Elementary School ball fields after the City Council this week approved spending about $300,000 for the improvements.

“The Rancho Niguel Little League people have been very patient with playing on substandard fields,” Councilman Mark Goodman said before the unanimous vote. “We should go full speed ahead and finish this project.”

The bulk of the money for the improvements will come from a development agreement reached with Monarch Bay Resorts last year. That settlement money has gone toward various athletic field improvements, including the $1.3 million used to upgrade Chapparosa Park.

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The city had originally set aside $232,000 for the Crown Valley Elementary field improvements. When the design firm’s estimate came in at more than $311,000, city staff recommended postponing several improvements to bring the project within the budget.

But the council agreed to keep all parts of the development plan rather than bring down the cost.

The project will include reorienting the fields so both back up against the restrooms and concession stands. The larger field, which is used by the Major division, will be extended so that the outfield fence is almost the regulation distance of 200 feet from home plate.

The project also includes new bleachers, picnic tables, a batting cage, parking for the disabled, trees and wiring for lights.

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The project must still be approved formally by the Capistrano Unified School District, although the district already has given preliminary agreement to the improvements if the city paid for them.

The city expects the project to be completed by February, 1995, in time for the new Little League season.


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