Construction gets underway for batting cages, bathroom remodel at South Mercer Playfields

he bathrooms at the South Mercer Playfields are already under construction in phase two of the fields project. - Megan Managan/Mercer Island Reporter
he bathrooms at the South Mercer Playfields are already under construction in phase two of the fields project.
— image credit: Megan Managan/Mercer Island Reporter

What was once an eye-popping estimate for batting cages, the price tag for the continued updates at the South Mercer Playfields has dropped considerably. The Mercer Island City Council approved a bid from Advanced Construction, based in Mukilteo, Wash. for $247,000 during it's June 21 meeting. Construction on the second phase of the project began on July 12, according to Joan Weiser, the project manager with the City of Mercer Island.

The project total includes remodeling the bathrooms, with a concession stand addition, as well as a scoreboard for one field and building a batting cage with a metal roof.

"They are working on everything simultaneously," said Weiser, but she added the restroom remodel has taken top priority as teams are using the fields this summer and fall. During the time when the bathrooms are closed, temporary ones will be available to field users.

The batting cages were estimated by the engineer's to cost $142,000 and Advanced Construction bid that section of the project at $133,000. The option for a metal roof over the batting cages was chosen, rather than a batting cage with tunnel netting over the top, or a chain link fence cover, similar to the one at Island Crest Park.

The Mercer Island Little League has committed $40,000 toward the project, while the Mercer Island School District contributed $27,000, leaving the City with a bill of $66,000 for the project.

Brian Emanuels, the president emeritus of the Mercer Island Little League, said the organization has been extremely happy with how the first phase of the project turned out, and are equally excited about the second phase.

"The fields were great this year," he said. "We had very few rain outs, where before if it rained three days prior we'd have to cancel. That's a thing of the past now. The fields are always in perfect condition."

Despite the City Council's initial balking of the cost for the batting cages, Emanuels said the group felt it was important to have a roof on the cages.

"We felt really strongly about having a roof on the batting cages," he said. "Building cages without a roof wouldn't get scheduled as much. When it's dark and wet is really when we need them and without a roof it just wouldn't get used."

Emanuels praised the city staff for listening to the Little League's concerns and understanding why the roof was an important component to the project.

"They found an economical solution," he said. The option chosen, a metal roof, will allow for the cages to be lighted.

"The batting cages were critical to the softball team and the Little League will get great use out of them," he said.

Emanuels said he has been all over the Eastside lately watching the various Little League teams play and has noticed most of the venues offered amenities like concession stands, something Mercer Island will have at the end of the project.

"People really appreciate having a source of food, whether they've just come from work or the little kids need something. It makes Mercer Island comparable to other parks in the area."

The project is expected to be completed is by the end of the year.

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