As work continues behind the scenes on improving facilities, play continues for Sequim Little League at James Standard Memorial Park.
Practices for approximately 320-plus children started on March 13 for T-ball, baseball, and softball divisions.
Nick Simpson, president of the Little League board, said their turnout matches last year’s, which boasted a record turnout for friends and family on opening day.
Hoping to replicate that success, volunteers host the opening season ceremony at noon, Saturday, March 25, at 124 W. Silberhorn Road.
It will include a player parade of 26 teams, John B. Cooper singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a ceremonial first pitch by volunteer Kris Lether caught by Tony Knapp — son of Don Knapp, and pledges for players and volunteers before games starting around 2 p.m.
Clallam County Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 2933 sponsors opening day with free hot dog lunches for players and coaches.
Last year, the ceremony debuted a new scoreboard at the Don Knapp field. On March 19, a dedication was held at the new Kayla Owens Field for another new scoreboard honoring the former player and dedicated volunteer who passed away last year.
Sequim Little League is entirely volunteer run. Simpson previously said its budget is about $35,000-$40,000 a year with funds coming from registration and fundraising.
Last August, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe officials brought remodeling designs and engineering plans for the park to Sequim Council, as the City of Sequim and Little League both own a portion of the property in unincorporated Clallam County.
The tentative three-phase plan would add at least 200 designated parking spaces, sidewalks, fencing, lights, a new entrance, monument sign, paved path into the northern fields, and designated areas for drop-offs, said Steve Schmitz, an engineer with KPFF Consulting Engineers of Lacey for the tribe.
Councilors approved the project at their Aug. 11 meeting, but any construction plans will need to be approved by Clallam County.
Hannah Merrill, Sequim’s parks and facilities manager, said via email that permits are pending but they hope to complete Phase 1 by the fall. Phases 2 and 3 are to be determined, she wrote, and that design work starts this spring for a proposed playground with installation dependent on funding.
At the Aug. 11 meeting, Schmitz said they hoped to begin work on Phase 1 before the end of 2022 and not interfere with the upcoming spring season.
Ron Allen, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe chairman/CEO, who advocated for the project, said in an interview that they’re “putting it on the back burner and working out the permitting issues and still doing some of the engineering.”
“It got bigger than we thought,” he said. “We thought it’d be a few hundred thousand [dollars] but now it’s in the range of $1.2 million.”
Allen, who said the tribe “made quite a commitment to engineering and designing” to the project, “need to make sure we have contributors to the project other than just Jamestown.”
Simpson said he met with tribal and city officials in mid-March, and they tentatively agreed to start construction on phase 1 after the All-Star season ends in July.
Crews will cordon sections of the parking lot to install curbs as work progresses, Simpson said.
“We’ll wait till this summer so that way they don’t have to stop,” he said.
Little League board members moved meetings and other activities away from the fields during the winter, including Feb. 4 player assessments to Carrie Blake Community Park, just in case construction started.
“We didn’t want anything to hold them up,” Simpson said.
Sequim Little League officials look to host the District 2 Softball tournament again in June, he said.
While parking lot improvements remain pending, Simpson said volunteers added about $15,000 in new infield mix to most of the baseball/softball fields for players.
“We’re pretty convinced we’ll make it happen,” Allen said in an interview. “We’re hopeful this summer we can do a lot.”
For more about Sequim Little League, visit www.sequimlittleleague.com.