McHenry league gets $16K waiver for ballpark meter

McHENRY – A youth baseball organization scored big this week after the City Council approved a request to waive $16,633 in fees.

The McHenry Baseball Association at Monday’s council meeting was granted a waiver of capital development fees the city typically charges for the installation of a 1.5-inch water meter.

“For four years, we’ve dreamed and wanted irrigation for our field,” said Joe Meyer, board president of the volunteer-driven organization.

The baseball league, with 700 to 800 youths from McHenry school districts, gathers at Buss Field, west of the VFW Post 4600, throughout the season for practice and games.

Buss Field is the property of the VFW, 3002 W. Route 120.

“Through the gift of the McHenry VFW, by letting us use their base field, their generous donation of that, we built a new [baseball] field,” Meyer said. “But we never had water for it.”

Without an irrigation system to water the infield between games and tournaments, volunteers dragged garden hoses and water buckets from the VFW building “across the driveway, across the field.”

The McHenry Baseball Association has had “quite an investment there already,” he said.

The volunteer-driven group has put in at least $200,000 in improvements and additions, such as lighting and netting, he said.

In its recommendation to the council for the waiver, the city administration noted the association’s previous contributions to Buss Field as well as to McHenry’s other ballpark, Petersen Park, which has a water line with yard hydrants.

“[The baseball association] has also been a partner to the city for many years and has assisted us in upgrading and maintaining city-owned fields,” Assistant City Administrator Bill Hobson said in a memo to the council.

The city typically charges capital development fees to fund future expansion and improvements to the water and sewer system and have not waived these fees in the past. However, these fees are usually tied to new construction.

Meyer said the water meter would be used for irrigation only, to water the fields. The group has yet to confirm when the installation will be complete.

“We’d love to be ready for the spring,” he said.

“We still have a lot of expenses,” Meyer said. “ ... We’ll still be paying every single month [on water bills] but [the waiver of fees] is a great starting point for us, and we’re glad to have it.”

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