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Lights are back on at Pilchuck Park, but there's more work to do

SNOHOMISH — The crack of the bat hasn’t happened after twilight at Pilchuck Park for quite a while now.
Entire rows of lights for illuminating the field wouldn’t turn on. Not having night games poses a crunch for the upcoming youth baseball season.
A turning point might have happened Thursday, though.
Getchell Electric raised a lift to examine the lighting system, and will deliver its report soon.
The initial results are looking good, city project manager Brennan Collins said.
Two electric breakers needed their connections cleaned, and now about 90 percent of the lights are shining again, Collins relayed from a site visit Thursday, March 25.
It’s not a grand slam, but it could be a big breakthrough. Before it became known that cleaning the connections would solve a lot, there were fears that half the system was broken, Collins said.
There is other park electrical work that still needs remedying, Collins said.
Jesse Podoll, the president of the Snohomish Pilchuckers youth baseball team, greatly advocates for the park.
Six other youth baseball teams travel from as far away as Woodinville to play here.
“Teams are coming here for what it is: A lighted field in good condition. That is rare,” Podoll said.
The city might not be finished after it solves these gremlins. It might shoot for a whole new LED lighting system to replace the floodlights that are at least 40 years old.
It could take this option because the city’s finances are in better shape than earlier conservative estimates, city administrator Steve Schuller said last week.
Lighting at Pilchuck Park was among a shortlist of projects and costs Schuller plans to present to the City Council in coming weeks. Some of the others include increased costs for the Police Department and jail service contracts the city will have to account for next year, adding security cameras to watch city assets such as park bathrooms, repairing a roof leak at the Snohomish Senior Center and hiring a new assistant planner, from a draft list Schuller supplied. The council already verbally gave the go-ahead for the planning position at its March 16 meeting.
Podoll considers Pilchuck Park as the city’s “crown jewel” for sports. Now middle-aged, he distinctly remembers the park’s lights from some 35 years ago. The city thinks the system is older than that.
The city usually rents slots from 5 to 7 p.m. and then 7 to 9 p.m., but games can’t happen safely when parts of the field have dark pockets. In summer, the cut-off is around 8 p.m., but the timeline shortens by the end of the season toward fall. A youth game takes two to two-and-a-half hours, Podoll said.
Youth baseball can’t easily be scheduled earlier on weekdays because parents take their kids to the field, Podoll said. Weekends get packed with games.
Field rentals are cheaper here because the players and parents take care of the field. Pilchuckers of all stripes help tidy the bases and paint the lines. It gives kids a sense of park ownership, Podoll said.
“It shows you how good (the park) is when you have teams from Mill Creek coming, from Woodinville, and from Lake Stevens,” Podoll said. “It shows why the park is meaningful.”

  

 

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Original contents copyrighted by Mach Publishing (Snohomish County Tribune), all rights reserved

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