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Volunteers raising money to fix Zupo Field fence

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Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:03 am, Wed Dec 5, 2012.

While running the Lodi Legion Baseball Program, Mark Armstrong has watched the fence at Zupo Field gradually become more decrepit.

Sometimes before games he would have to nail the boards back up, and there are sections where the wood is so rotted, anyone leaning on the fence could push it down.

So Armstrong decided to ask the city what could be done. When staff said there was no money in the budget to fix the fence, Armstrong started a $25,000 fundraising effort to replace the eyesore.

"We play our games there, and we try to keep the fields up, and so this is our way of giving back," Armstrong said. "We want to make sure the park is there for a long, long time."

The Parks and Recreation Commission signed off on the replacement fence at Tuesday's meeting.

The current fence is constructed of plywood and metal posts. It will be replaced with a privacy chain link fence with vertical wooden slats. The fundraising effort has already raised $17,000. The goal is to raise $25,000, in case the fence costs more or there are other small side projects that could be done at the same time, Armstrong said.

The Boosters of Boys and Girls Sports are accepting the donations and earmarking them for the project.

The BOBS are organizing volunteers to take down the current fence, which they plan to remove in early February. The group has also agreed to remove all of the debris from the old fence.

The city will then hire a contractor to come in and replace the fence by the end of February, before baseball season starts. City staff will participate by training volunteers to demolish the fence, providing project oversight, completing specific field work and supplying temporary construction fencing.

At the meeting Tuesday, Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Jeff Hood said the chain link fence with slats is the same style often used by junior colleges, and requires little maintenance. But he said the center field wall will remain in place because it adds charm to the field.

Commissioner Rick Morgan said the fence is in bad shape and he is glad something is being done.

"It is unfortunate that we cannot replace the wall with existing plywood because it will lose a little charm, but the alternative we are going with will look very nice and more modern," Morgan said.

If you would like to make a donation, you can mail checks to Mark Armstrong, 18654 Ironstone St., Woodbridge, CA 95258; call him at 209-327-1165; or email mark@grapefestival.com.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodi news.com.

Shifting funds to repair skate park ramps: City staff may have found a way to fund about $5,000 in repairs at the Kofu Skate Park.

Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Jeff Hood told the commission on Tuesday about a fund that was set up decades ago to build a teen center in Lodi. The fund holds about $13,590, but there are no plans to build a teen center in the future.

"It's really not doing the community any benefit in that account. The city will not be developing a teen center for decades," Hood said.

Because that money is not being used, Hood suggested the city take out at least $5,000 to repair the ramps at Kofu Skate Park.

"The vast majority of the users there are teenagers. We certainly can use the money to repair the ramps," Hood said.

The Parks and Recreation Commission took it one step further and recommended all of the money go toward repairs at the skate park and working to organize some events at the park.

In 1992, Commissioner Jeff Palmquist said he was on a committee for the teen center, and said at the time, people discussed using some of the money being raised for a skate park.

"That was partially the intent then, so the use of this money for repairs is a good fit," he said.

This is not the first time the city has moved money from the teen fund. In 2008, the Recreation Commission agreed to spend $4,642 for basketball improvements at the Grape Festival Grounds pavilion.

Since the city held meetings about problems with drugs, alcohol and litter at the skate park, those issues have drastically decreased, Hood said. The illegal activity moved elsewhere, more parents are coming to the park, and the younger and older kids are interacting more, he said.

Commissioner Rick Morgan said that after talking with parents at meetings about the skate park, he looked up videos of 12-year-old Bryce Tryon, who plans to eventually go to the X-Games, a national competition for BMX riders. He was surprised by the high-level of talent at the park.

He suggested some of the money be used to host a competition.

Commissioner Larry Long also agreed that events at the park could help keep the positive atmosphere at the park going.

"If we free up all this money at the skate park and show that we are willing to make an investment, then the kids out there will see we are putting in some effort," Long said.

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