TAVERNIER, FL – The extensive hurricane repairs and new construction at the two baseball fields at Monroe County’s Harry Harris Park are near completion, enabling them to reopen by Friday, Feb. 1 – in time for the opening of Little League season.
“We had to rebuild everything from the fencing to the dugouts,” said Robert Glassmer, Monroe County’s Administrator for Buildings, Parks and Beaches in the Upper Keys. “The kids are really going to love this.”
Hurricane Irma severely damaged the entire oceanfront park. The Monroe County Facilities Maintenance crew worked hard to meet the Little League season opening of March 1. They removed 600 tons of clay contaminated with seaweed and saltwater intrusion and replaced it with new clay. Workers also installed a new irrigation system, replaced the electric in the concession stand, built new dugouts, replaced the fencing, and installed shiny new red dugout seats and bleachers.
The ball fields will be open for daytime play only until the new lighting can be completed by an outside contractor.
Now underway are design of the repairs to Wilkinson Point and the swim area jetty. The design should be complete this summer, with construction to begin soon after.
The first part of the repairs to the hurricane-damaged park included reopening the beach, playground and boat ramp. An area also was designated for pets on a leash, since they are not allowed on the beach.
Jenn Weiden, President of the Upper Keys Little League, said the league is thrilled and thankful the ballparks are reopening.
“The County staff has done a tremendous job communicating with us on the ongoing progress and as a result we were able to add a new division with more than 70 players this year,” Weiden said. “Our goal is to provide baseball opportunities to all players between the ages of 4 and 13 and the reopening of Harry Harris baseball fields is certainly allowing us to do so.
Photo: Monroe County Facilities Maintenance workers Karel Alvarez (left) and Julio Mollineda install a new dugout roof at the Harry Harris Park ballfields that are scheduled to reopen next week.