Hatten Stadium renovation possibilities were discussed after New London Parks & Recreation Director Chad Hoerth welcomed the public to a meeting Monday, Nov. 8, at the Washington Center community room.
The meeting was held in conjunction with the Hatten Stadium Foundation.
Clark Meyer of Omnni Associates facilitated the meeting with Jeff Sanders, a planning and consulting assistant.
This two hour meeting was meant to gather input and ideas for a master renovation plan for the Hatten Memorial Stadium. All citizens who attended had ample opportunity to speak and many did.
Hoerth started the meeting by explaining that three years ago when he took the parks directorship, he heard coaches, athletes, booster club members and others say the same thing in different ways, but mostly, “If we could get football out of Hatten Stadium, we’d have a sweet field to play baseball in.”
“Now football is out, something many didn’t think would happen, but here you have it, said Hoerth. “Creating this foundation to see that baseball has a place at Hatten Stadium has been a cool experience.”
Stadium Foundation Board
The Hatten Memorial Stadium Foundation board consists of President Mike Frederick, Vice President Lee Meyer, Secretary Kami Quinter and Treasurer Chad Hoerth.
The goal of the foundation is to renovate the field itself, but they also realize the stadium has to be addressed. When a grant was awarded to pay for planning of the stadium renovation, this meeting was set and now they are going forward with the process. Foundation members made it clear that their initial and constant intent, is to restore the field.
Broad scope of ideas
Omnni facilitators then explained that ideas need to be heard from the community in order for them to fit the needs of this project. From there, Omnni and Associates will create three options for a master renovation plan using the ideas of the public to form the plan.
Throughout the meeting, Sanders asked for suggestions on every aspect of the old stadium, from aesthetics to bathrooms and dugouts. The press box was discussed in length, since it was dedicated to long time coach and square thinker Jim Stern, Mike Fredericks said he would hope Jim would agree that the stadium needed some changes.
Bob Marcks, who remembers the days of calling the games without a press box, was concerned that the press box might not be kept, but was very happy to see the large amount of ideas and caring going into the project. “I didn’t know if anyone would care about it, but it’s obvious a lot of people do, and that’s good,” he said.
Some asked for the press box to remain to the side, while others said the best place would be behind home plate. Facilitator Meyer said it could be built into the bleacher area much smaller and accommodate the games easily without losing much seating. “We would be bringing the seating out to the wall and add seating as well.
The meeting covered the entire scope of items at the stadium, and before long mention was made that state codes would have to be the first consideration and that following them may cause some things to change that may not be popular. “I’ve heard a lot of people say the stadium light towers should stay as is,” said Frederick. That may not be possible if they are deemed unsafe by state inspectors. In that case, the planners may have to look at the light set up prior to the big towers being there, or find something aesthetically pleasing to the stadium design. “There are a multitude of answers for each concern we have here,” said Sanders. “We just have to look at the options.”
Leslie Paul agreed with her husband Jerry, as he spoke to the group, “I have heard since I arrived in this town and even before, that Hatten Stadium is a compliment to us as a community, who have this beautiful stadium and park here. It is up to us to preserve, fortify and keep the character of this park alive.” Many heads nodded in firm agreement.
“That is the great information and input we are looking for,” said Sanders, “We’ll know that character preservation is tops on the list when planning for the future of this stadium structure and its surroundings.” Other strong opinions were shared that the stone fence surrounding the stadium courtyard and surrounding the field should not be altered.
Once the brainstorming session was over, a list of possibilities was neatly formulated on the renovation wall poster provided by the Omnni team. The crowd of 25 were then asked to place color coded stickers on three of the items that were of utmost importance in the planning. A blue dot was to go where the most important aspect of the renovation appeared. It could be new bathrooms, new bleachers or seating, new lighting, or a relocated press box. Overall the dots ended up on several key areas to address.
“Those who could not attend the meeting called Hoerth and spoke to Frederick and other foundation members prior to the meeting. Says Frederick, “There’s a real concern out there for this stadium. We have to be good stewards of it.”