La Vega Little League, which serves about 120 children, has a formal agreement for the first time in years for use of its city-owned ballfields.

Officials hope the agreement, approved by the Bellmead City Council on Tuesday, will give the league a healthy leadoff as it works with the city on making improvements to the baseball and softball facilities in Bellmead Lions Park at the end of Parrish Street, near the Bellmead Civic Center and La Vega High School.

“These fields mean a whole lot to me, and this is my 12th season out here,” La Vega Little League President Samuel Romero said. “We’ve been talking about this for a while with volunteers and trying to build a relationship with the city to make the league better.”

The agreement makes the facilities available for spring and fall softball and baseball programs from 4 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. It does not require the league to pay any fees for use of the fields. The city will be responsible for major repairs, and the league will be responsible for any repairs needed because of its use of the facilities.

“This is formalizing what has been understood for the last several years and making sure everyone knows their roles. … This holds everyone accountable and it creates a two-way street of communication that we can hopefully build off of for years to come,” Interim City Manager Yost Zakhary said.

La Vega Little League is in its 69th year and serves about 120 children from age 4 to 16.

“We all have one vision and one goal and that is to make the little league better, not only for the kids but for the city,” Romero told the council. “We are the longest running little league and we want to keep on going and make this the best year for these kids.”

Zakhary said the agreement is a boost for the league and for the city in general. A few years ago, when Little League parents approached city officials about maintenance concerns at the fields, city officials said they assumed there was a formal agreement but learned no such agreement existed.

“This (new agreement) is trying to get the city more engaged with the community and the community more engaged with the city,” Zakhary said. “We used to have a hands-off relationship, so this is a continuation of what the city has tried to get going for years by putting this in writing and helps the city support youth activity.”

He estimates the city spends $20,000 to $25,000 in maintenance and lawn services each year. He said cleaning of the concession stands, cleaning of the scorekeeper building, field striping, field light maintenance, field mowing during the season and general cleaning of the complex will be done by the league.

The city will maintain the park during the off-season, provide pest control, and do general building repair and maintenance, according to the new contract. Romero said installing new bleachers and updating scoreboards at the fields are top priorities for the league moving forward. He said he also hopes to work with the city on improvements to the dugouts.

“Just the simple things that the city is agreeing to do, with keeping the grass cut (during the off-season) makes it easier,” Romero said. “We are really looking forward to opening day and working with the city.”

Every council member at Tuesday’s meeting voted to approve the new contract. Mayor Travis Gibson was not present.

Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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