It’s obvious driving along Longhorn Road there is major construction occurring on the Payson High School baseball field.
What’s happening are long awaited and much needed improvements on a field that was once considered among the worst in 3A high school baseball.
Just how the improvement project came into being is a feel good story involving fathers of current PHS baseball players, local businessmen, school district maintenance workers and administrators.
“We all realized there was a safety problem and (we) decided to do something about it,” said Slade Gibson, who’s son, Westin, is one of the finest players to ever don a Longhorn uniform.
The movement to improve the field began months ago when Gibson called on a trio of other parents, who are also local businessmen, to spearhead the project. Ty Goodman, Reese Randall and Scott Geske all jumped at the chance to help out, as did George Randall at Payson Concrete. The men met with school administrators to plan out a budget and lay plans for improvements.
It wasn’t long before schemes were finalized and Gibson, Geske, Goodman and Randall were at work on the project that includes new main irrigation lines to the field, new heads and valves.
“All of those were about 27 years old and they were maintenance problems and breaks to deal with,” said Gibson.
In addition to improving the irrigation system, the field was re-leveled and re-seeded. Also a grass infield will soon be in place and sod grass will be laid on the first to third base foul area. Also a new main water line was laid to the nearby girl’s softball field.
Gibson predicts that with the improvements, “Payson will go from having the worst baseball field to having the best.”
The organizers expect the project to be finished by next week.
In 2006, Payson voters approved a bond issue that included money to install artificial playing services on the high school’s fields.
In March of 2009, however, the PUSD board voted to stretch what remained of the bond, $3.3 million, to building repairs and not install turf. The decision created an outcry from some voters, but school board member Barbara Underwood defended the move saying, “As a board member, I have a fiscal responsibility to the entire community to do what is best for the district with the budget available.”
The concerns for the safety of the field eventually prompted Gibson and the other parents to begin lobbying the district to help upgrade the field.