Even though classes and campus activities are stalled because of the statewide coronavirus emergency, Westminster College is continuing with plans to build a new baseball field.
The Lawrence County commissioners on Tuesday received a certified letter from Civil and Environmental Consultants Inc. of Monroeville, which is designing the new field for the college. The letter is an indication that plans for the ball field are proceeding.
The field will be situated east of Westminster Drive and North of Maple Street Extension, and an improved entrance is planned off the existing roundabout, the letter states. A parking area will be located just west of the new field and will accommodate bus traffic.
The letter informs the commissioners that a pollution discharge elimination system, an erosion and sedimentation control plan and a general permit to discharge stormwater from construction are in the process.
Plans for the ball field started taking shape in 2018 when the college initiated planning for a UPMC Sports Complex at Westminster College, to serve as the new home for the school’s men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse teams. The new campus athletic facility is eyed as a joint effort between Westminster and UPMC.
The new facility is to be built on the site of the school’s current softball field. The softball field will be relocated to the site of the existing baseball field, next to Brittain Lake, and the new baseball field will be on the site of the former football practice field, just northeast of Harold Burry Stadium, according to the original plans.
Betsy Hildebrand, director of communications at Westminster, said the plans are still set to move forward but are on hold right now because the governor has halted all construction during the state coronavirus emergency.
The first phase of the baseball field construction includes creating the basic field and building fences and dugouts. Future phases, depending on fundraising, could include lights and a press box and other features, she said.
“We were in the middle of soliciting bids (for the baseball field project) when the all construction projects in the commonwealth were halted. When we are able to resume projects, we’ll pick up where we left off,” Hildebrand said.
Anthony J. Simelis, an engineer for the company, said the engineering firm is waiting for an approval for the erosion and sedimentation control plan from the Lawrence County Conservation District. He said the plans are to begin construction on the baseball field sometime in the summer.
“They wanted to start it in May, but because of the pandemic, they’re probably going to delay it until summer,” he said, adding, “It’s still a go.”