SAN JUAN — The city of San Juan is in the process of renovating the baseball and softball fields of the Municipal Park.

The renovations come roughly a year after the city replaced the lighting at the park with new LED lights.

The baseball fields are prepared to be renovated with infield artificial grass at San Juan Municipal Park on Thursday, March 12, 2020, in San Juan. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

At Tuesday’s regular meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Patrick Willingham presented the commission with an update regarding the progress of the park’s renovations.

“Over the last three years, we’ve seen a nice little increase in participation. Baseball and softball is just very popular here,” said Willingham, describing the high demand for use of the Municipal Park fields. “Our numbers are growing, and we want to better serve the community throughout the year. We want our facilities to be capable of hosting events, not just during spring and summer, but throughout the whole year. Basically what that does is create an economic impact on the community.”

The Municipal Park has not been renovated since it was built in 1996. The renovations are under the direction of M.G. Valley out of La Feria, and cost the city approximately $468,000.

Both fields at the park are getting artificial turf in the infield, as well as new sod in the outfield. The new field will also have improved irrigation to help the flow of water when it rains.

Willingham explained that the field is being laid out at a slight slope which will direct water to flow toward the north side of the field.

“If I’m not mistaken, we’ll be the first municipality, the city of San Juan, with turf fields,” Mayor Mario Garza said. “I know for a fact that a lot of community members, a lot of parents, our kids within the community are very excited to get on those fields and start playing ball.”

Garza said that the purpose behind the renovations is to help build the youth sports programs for male and female athletes. An estimated 750 kids use the park fields year-round.

The mayor also addressed a notification posted on the parks and rec website notifying the community about a temporary suspension of baseball and softball operations as a result of COVID-19.

The notification reads, “As a precautionary measure to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the San Juan Parks and Recreation Pony Baseball/ Softball season will suspend all practices immediately and will evaluate on Monday March 30,2020 to possibly resume practices with games tentative scheduled for the week of April 6, 2020. For more information call 956-223-2350.”

“That’s coming from the Pony organization,” said Garza. “We, the city of San Juan, do play under the Pony rules. It’s just being precautious and taking safety measures for everybody, the players and the spectators, with what’s going on with all this coronavirus.”