Junior Major League finally gets okay to build ballfield fence

After spending more than a year trying to build a fence to separate two ball fields behind the Milford Public Library, the Milford Junior Major League finally got approval this week.

The ball field fence issue came to a head in January when the Milford Board of Aldermen voted to table a Milford Junior Major League request to construct a fence at Fowler Field.

It was around July when the league asked the Recreation Department for permission to build a fence, which Park, Beach and Recreation Commission Chairman Dan Worroll said is really two fences that meet at a gate. League President George Spescha said the league did a lot of research on fencing after deciding to increase safety at the fields.

Youths ages 4 to 12 play on the Bernard and Francis fields, which are back to back, and there’s a chance of balls being hit into one field from the other, league officials said. There’s also a chance that two players on different fields might run into each other running for fly balls.

“We were trying to be proactive in terms of safety,” Spescha said several months ago. Robert Wheway, a league member and engineer, repeated that when he spoke before the aldermen at a meeting this month.

Wheway also pointed out that having a real fence allows ball players to have the experience of hitting an over-the-fence homerun.

The league initially wanted to put up permanent fencing at the fields, but met with resistance from the Milford Oyster Festival Committee, which uses the area for its summertime festival. So the league proposed a temporary fence that could be dismantled before and after the Oyster Festival.

Still, there were problems and questions, like who would take down the temporary fence and then put it back up, and who would pay for that.

The aldermen had other questions, too, as did City Attorney Jonathan Berchem. They didn’t think the fence sounded “temporary” if had to be taken down by professionals at a cost, and they wondered if the galvanized sleeves into which the fence posts slide would be a tripping hazard.

All the issues appeared resolved Monday night when the aldermen voted unanimously in favor of the fences.

League volunteers will be responsible for putting up the fence, taking it down and storing it, so there won’t be any cost or burden to the city. Also, those metal sleeves will be capped with a turf-covered cap and sunk into the ground so there won’t be a tripping hazard, league members said.