Devine Little League presses City for new sports complex

The Devine City Council took no action regarding the Devine Little League’s request for additional City support during the Council meeting held on June 18.

Devine Little League (DLL) Board President Juan Zamora petitioned the Council support the group’s goal of building a baseball/softball complex either financially or through the donation of land.

Zamora said that “we probably have one of the worst facilities in the surrounding area,” and pointed out that only one of the three fields is regulation-size, and that there is no softball-specific field.

“We are doing our own due diligence on looking for trying to get people to donate to us and whether it be writing our own grants, but I am also asking City of their support, financial or by land space,” Zamora said. “It can be a project that is built out over a period of time, ideally starting with softball since we don’t have a softball field, and then building around it the other fields.”

Little League games are played on City-owned property. In a meeting held on September 10, 2019, Council voted to amend its contract with the DLL to include taking care of maintenance outside the fields’ fences during the offseason, helping re-do bathrooms, and opening the field up to the public during the offseason.

Additionally, Council voted to waive the remaining $30,000 the DLL owed the City after the City fronted $50,000 to install flood lights at the facility several years ago. The DLL had already repaid $20,000.

“I think your biggest problem is going to be is Devine doesn’t have a very big city limits,” Mayor Cory Thompson said. “I don’t know where you’re going to find the property that you need, because it is property.”

Zamora brought up an abandoned project between the City and Devine ISD that would seen the district donating land on which to build a sports complex.

“I guess in my mind, I envisioned that the City would have investigated other potential landing spots for that project,” Zamora said.

City Attorney Tom Cate pointed out that that project had been planned as a partnership between the City and school, and when that partnership fell through, so did the plan.

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“The City didn’t look at any other properties,” Cate said. “When things were moving along, we were focused on that property.”

District 5 Councilwoman Debra Randall said that when members of the DLL Board approached Council in 2019, Council asked them to investigate what the national Little League organization requires to help build a sports complex.

Randall, who was on the Parks Board at the time, said she thought 15 acres was required for a baseball and softball complex.

“Because we don’t know how much land is needed,” Randall said. “Then find out from Little League, what do they do for you before we know what we can do for you. Because if they’re going to give you a facility and a field and the fencing, do you just need us to stand there and maybe use a shovel once in a while?

“I don’t know. But the discussion was at that point, you had to come back to us and give us that information. Otherwise we can’t even discuss because we don’t know.”

Zamora said Little League has a grant program, but that being awarded one is not automatic.

“At the end of the day, if we don’t qualify or if we don’t get awarded, the need is still the need,” Zamora said. “We still have needs.”

Thompson asked if Zamora had approached Medina County about a complex and mentioned an animal rescue center that Atascosa County built in conjunction with other entities.

“Everybody’s like, ‘why can’t the City do that?’ Thompson said. “It was a multi-partnership. It wasn’t one entity, it was multiple entities…The City of Devine is in the county, so I’d be okay with moving forwards and trying, but we need everybody on board to make it make sense.”

Randall suggested that the matter was something that could be handled by the Parks Board.

“Little League can also go there and work with them, because they’re supposed to be doing all of this,” Randall said.

By Marly Davis

Staff Writer