After several years of hard work and dedication from the Jefferson County Little League board and community members, a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Juniper Park Hills, announcing the new bathrooms, concession stand and pavilion, was held July 18.
Before the new facilities were developed, parents and coaches were very concerned about how far away the bathrooms were from the nearest baseball field — 600 feet — across a parking lot that sometimes would hold an immense amount of cars.
That is a lot of cars and a long way for a kid who is in a hurry to use the restroom, trying to dodge vehicles coming in and out of the parking lot.
Five years ago, former JCLL president Jennifer Holcomb had a goal and mission to improve the park and add much-needed facilities.
"This was part of a grant received in 2018 through the state of Oregon," Holcomb said. "The grant was written by Bruce Irwin and myself and it was actually our third attempt at a grant. We failed in 2016 and 2017. Each time we failed, we evaluated and readjusted the grant and finally able to get it."
"The grant had match funds that were required, so none of this would have been possible without our volunteers, Jefferson County, the city of Madras, Bean Foundation," she said. "There were hundreds of volunteer hours that went into getting us to this point."
"There were lots of fundraisers and the solar eclipse, which had 3,000 people from many different countries and a person from almost every state in the United States," said Holcolm. "All of that money went back into the park. The money went towards this project."
The pavilion, bathroom and concessions were not the only new facilities and projects that the park and JCLL have developed. New dugouts at the softball fields were put in a few years ago, as well as a batting cage near the baseball fields. Several volunteer hours also went into redoing the fields for the District 5 All-Star Tournament hosted by Madras June 21-28.
"We have a vision for this place and want it to be a community asset," Holcomb said. "We are super excited. The current board is really stepping in and taking it where we started, continuing to run with the vision."
The new facilities added a little stress to the JCLL board and community members because the bathroom and restroom building was put in on a Thursday, with the All-Star Tournament starting on Saturday morning.
"I want to give a huge shout out to Jeff Hurd (city of Madras Public Works director) for continuing to push this," said Holcomb. "Everyone has been super supportive with this project and with volunteer hours, giving back to the community."
The pavilion was the most recent facility to be put in this summer. There will also be another covered pavilion area, where people can enjoy a shaded area, to be built by the soccer fields. A trail will be added that will be from the softball fields to the bathroom by the soccer field.
"The total cost of the project is estimated at $491K right now," said Hurd. "This includes the bathroom, trail, two pavilions, and paving of the entrance road to the gate. K3 Construction will be completing the trail section from the edge of the gravel parking lot to the middle restroom facility."
"Then they will also construct a path from the center of the softball fields to the first restroom," he added. "Upon completion of the path, all three restrooms will be connected together with an ADA asphalt path."
The project should be completed by August or September and will be wrapped up before the cold weather starts up, he noted.
"The grant was not just about Little League, but about Juniper Hills and the community, what it needs up here," Holcomb. "This area is beautiful, this park is beautiful; we just need to keep growing the park and meeting the needs of the community. We can attract other people to have tournaments up here and it is a great revenue option for our town."
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