Carp ball diamonds’ extreme makeover

CARP – While the U23 Men Canadian Fast Pitch Championship was postponed for a year, the diamonds the tournament was scheduled to be played on have had a very busy summer indeed.

 The championship organizing committee and several community volunteers have been hard at work this spring and summer doing major renovations to the two ball diamonds making sure they will be in pristine shape for the re-scheduled tournament next year, as well as for the community for many years to come.

Volunteers work on installing a new fence around the diamond. Courtesy the U23 Canadian Fast Pitch Championship organizing committee
Volunteers work on installing a new fence around the diamond. Courtesy the U23 Canadian Fast Pitch Championship organizing committee

Since May, a group of volunteers have replaced fences, improved the field and are currently adding covered dugouts to the Carp ball diamonds.

“It’s been a lot of work,” organizing committee volunteer Geoff Lathem told West Carleton Online today (July 23). “We’ve been working hard, social distancing when we can and it’s stupid hot.”

Lathem says about 15 to 20 “different faces” are part of a volunteer team that has already donated more than 450 hours of time to the project. Every Tuesday night since May, as well as the occasional Friday and Saturday, the team meets and gets to work on the project of turning the two Carp ball diamonds in to two of the best in the City of Ottawa.

“It’s going to look great,” Lathem said. “What we’re doing is going to be there for 30 years. It’s going to be great for West Carleton and for Ottawa.”

Including the Canadian championship, which initially would have got underway next Tuesday (July 28), five adult tournaments scheduled for the diamonds were cancelled this season. Making lemonade out of lemons, the organizing committee now has the time they needed to get the ball perfect.

“We’ve done well over 450 volunteer hours this spring and we’ll do that again to finish up,” Lathem said.

That doesn’t include last fall, when volunteers spent time working on removing a lip in the field where it transitioned from the infield to the outfield – tearing up sod and extending the infield by several feet.

On top of the volunteer hours, many community members have donated equipment for the project as well.

The Carp Agricultural Society has lent the crew its tractor as well as some volunteer hours from director James Daley and President of Agriculture Ryan Foley. Volunteer Robert James has lent his tractor, so has Lathem, and Shawn Clouthier, of Clouthier Custom Carpentry, has loaned his mini-excavator and is credited with leading the project.

Aecon Construction and Karson Group donated five loads of stone dust.

The Huntley Community Association (HCA), which is responsible for the upkeep of the diamonds “has been very good too,” Lathem said.

Lathem said community members Terry Boyd and Bryan Armstrong have also been key contributors.

Even the Carp business community has supported the project.

“One Saturday eight or nine guys were working, and we were breaking for lunch,” Lathem said. “I called up the Juke Joint Soul Kitchen and they made us lunch at a very good rate. There’s been stuff like that throughout the whole project. As a group, our vision is this isn’t for a one-time tournament (the championship). That is a big event obviously, but we’re looking to promote fastball for years to come. Hopefully in return, people will come to Carp and support the businesses here.”

This spring and summer the team replaced a 30-year-old fence surrounding one of the diamonds. One of the diamonds is on the property of the Carp Fairgrounds and one of the conditions of the arrangement is the HCA has to remove the fence every Carp Fair. This puts wear and tear on the fence, and it was time to be replaced. The organizing committee was able to get a grant from the city to pay for half of that project.

The current project is brand-new covered dugouts. They will have a steel roof, cedar benches and are approximately seven feet wide and 30 feet long.

“Now we’re in to the dugout,” Lathem, an electrician by trade, said. “They’re going to be really, really nice.”

Part of the permanent dugouts will also be on Carp Fair land, but that hasn’t been a problem.

“We met with Foley and (Homecraft President) Patricia Boyd a few times,” Lathem said. “They were all for it.”

Lathem would prefer to be helping host the U23 Canadian championship next week but is happy to have the extra time to make sure the ballpark upgrades are done right.

“It’s going to look good,” he said. “We try to do a little bit every year and this year is a big year.”