Young softball players and their parents have one simple message for Pauls Valley’s municipal leaders — let’s work together so the girls can play ball.

That message came through loud and clear when the local residents and their kids filled the Pauls Valley City Hall to address their concerns directly with the City Council Tuesday night.

Their biggest concern is upgrading the Pauls Valley Sports Complex, a group of Little League fields located on the west side of town. If that site was upgraded, the girls could play there and the site could host softball tournaments as early as next summer.

“Our concern is it’s always been on the back burner. This keeps getting dragged out,” Mary West told council members.

“You’ve got kids who haven’t got a place to play. We’re wondering if something is going to get done and do we have a time frame,” she said.

The biggest and most necessary upgrade would be replacing the fencing for a complex that is expected to include two Little League baseball fields, two softball fields and a field for T-ball.

Softball parents had expected the fence and field work to already be completed, but the work has occurred.

City Council members said a large drop in local sales tax revenues is the reason for the delay

“It’s budgeted,” City Manager James Frizell said. “We don’t have the revenue for it right now. If and when we get the money it will get done.”

Frizell said the stumbling block is the fact tax revenues for the city of Pauls Valley are about $300,000 less than a year ago.

Even without the shortfall Frizell said the plan all along was to make improvements to the complex in stages.

He reminded the crowd about $200,000 has already been spent to get the complex in shape with much of that amount spent on lighting improvements.

All of the council members present chimed in on how the decreased revenues have put the municipal government in a tough spot to push for the improvements.

“We have to accumulate the funds before we can do it,” Mayor Tim Gamble said. Gamble said the council recently rejected all of the bids for softball fencing “because we felt they were all too high.”

As for the condition of the fields, West said something had to be done to make them playable.

“The fields are there now but they’re not safe. It’s like a pasture,” West said.

The condition of the fields was the issue where the two sides found common ground. Several softball parents expressed desires to work with the city and volunteer their services to work on improving the softball fields. Frizell agreed to work with the parents to coordinate the work.

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