Lents teams plan to begin play on new fields in 2009

The process of moving Lents Little League to three fields at Lents Park is going forward, but the boys and girls won’t be playing baseball and softball at the new location until next year. Little League is expected to arrive on the northwest side of the park, at Southeast 88th Avenue and Holgate Boulevard, in April 2009. The setup will include new dugouts and bleachers on two existing fields, along with a new T-ball field with dugouts and bleachers located between them funded by Little League’s Urban Initiative. A one-story concession stand will service the three fields. Bathrooms also will be provided. A walking path will allow for easy access to all three fields. One existing field has lights. The second will be equipped with lights. All three will have fences. Lents Little League and user groups, such as adult softball leagues and Marshall High, will be playing at an entirely new facility. Sue Bush, president of Lents Little League, expects groundbreaking in late February or early March. It has been a long process — Lents and the city of Portland have been trying to move the league from its current location few blocks south, at Southeast 92nd Avenue and Harold Street, since 2000. Lents Little League has been playing there since 1955. Last year, about 250 kids and 20 baseball and softball teams took part in Lents Little League, which rents the current property. Portland Parks and Recreation and Lents Little League recently signed a user agreement, and the city is waiting for permits to begin the project. The City Council will take on the topic of Lents Park Jan. 29. The Lents Neighborhood Association, whose chief concerns were parking, lighting and garbage pickup, has had its voice heard. Bush says the league will do its part with the garbage, offering a cleanup incentive —snow cones! — to kids. “In reality, we love the city of Portland, but some of their projects take quite some time,” Bush says. “Lents (Little League) is definitely looking forward to this move.” The new Lents complex will be without a large meeting room or a built-in scoring tower. The league will have to use plastic, portable mounds for baseball. “We’ll have to give up quite a few amenities,” Bush says. Still, “we’ll be the only Little League in District 2 that will be able to have a (permanent) concession stand in a Portland park.” The league will transfer its set of lights to one of the existing fields at Lents Park. The eight-block area also includes Walker Field, a bigger diamond. Actually, the league would love to stay at its current location, but the Portland Development Commission has other plans for the property on Southeast 92nd Avenue. Bush says she hopes it isn’t a parking lot and TriMet park and ride. With a new light rail being constructed along Interstate 205, the city sees the 92nd and Harold area as being valuable for something, perhaps condos and/or retail. Bush says, speculatively, that a 99-year lease exists for the property to remain a ball complex. But nobody knows where it is. The Wattles Boys and Girls Club sits adjacent to the property, and it has funding from the city and private parties. But nobody came to the side of Lents Little League, she says. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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