By Matt Daigle
WEST PARIS — For the last year, the West Paris Athletic Association have been working to breathe new life into Harold Perham Field, one of three ballfields located at the Mann Complex on Ballfield Road.
Harold Perham Field was constructed in the mid-20th century and has been out of commission for several years. In 2015, the West Paris Athletic Association took preliminary steps towards restoring the field and getting it ready for use again.
However, Andrew Merrill, chairman of the West Paris Athletic Association, said that the project has reached a stand-still due to a miscommunication between the Athletic Association and the Board of Selectmen.
Town Manager Wade Rainey said that the Poland Corporation, which operates out of West Paris, recently finished filling and coating the Harold Perham Field, and that the next step would be to seed the field so that the grass will begin growing by next year.
“I know that the West Paris Athletic Association said that they would seed it, as it would save the town some money,” Rainey added.
However, Merril said that he is unsure of where the project stands and worries that if the field is not seeded soon, the work that has been done on cutting and filling Harold Perham Field will go to waste, especially if it washes out in the spring.
Merrill said that during March’s town meeting, residents voted to raise $13,000 to fix the Harold Perham Field.
He said that in 2015, the association had secured approximately $4,900 in donations of cash and materials.
“After the money had been approved, [the West Paris Athletic Association] had come up with a plan to cut and fill the baseball field,” Merrill said. “I thought it was a pretty good plan. I was going around to different people in the area, trying to figure out how we were going to get the work done.”
However, he said that the selectmen decided that they wanted to put the project out to bid, rather than “do it locally.”
During their May 12 meeting, the Board of Selectmen opened up three bids, including a $46,200 bid from Poland Corp. of West Paris.
“The bids came back, and they were nowhere close to the amount of money that we had raised,” Merrill said. “After that, I said, ‘Jeez, you guys seem to know a lot better than I do.’ They decided they could get the job done better.”
Merrill said that he ended up with “a lot of egg on my face” in attempting to get the work on the field completed.
“I was going around, in good faith, asking people to do the work on a cut and fill project on that baseball field,” Merrill said. “At this point it doesn’t feel like I have much say in it.”
Merrill said that with the weather getting colder, he’s concerned that the field won’t be seeded in time for the winter.
“I’m not 100 percent sure where we stand right now,” Merrill said. “Here we are at the end of October, and we don’t even have the grass in there.”
He said that, to his knowledge, the selectmen have taken over the field preparation.
“I’m just not sure if we’re still involved,” Merrill said. “The money for the project is in the West Paris Athletic Association account, but the selectmen have 100 percent control over it. I know that the field needs to be seeded very soon, but I’m not sure where everyone stands on it.”
Selectman Dennis Henderson said that as far as he was concerned, the field was “ready to be seeded,” and that there were plans to do it in the “next few days.”
Merrill added that he “does not believe that anybody involved in this has bad intentions.”
“I think there was just a communication breakdown, in that there has been a total lack of communication,” he continued. “It’s a good project, and I think that the local contractor has done a lot of good work on the field so far. It just feels a little bit outside of my control at this point, in terms of seeding.”
Merrill said some members of the West Paris Athletic Association called him recently and asked what the status was on the baseball field.
“Right now, I’m not sure,” he said. “I want to see the work get done, because it’d be a shame if all went to waste. The idea was to do the seeding in May or June. It’s a lot different doing it in October.”