PROPERTY DAMAGE: Director of the parks and recreation department, Elton Reece, looks over some of the more recent damage at a field located behind Edgewood Elementary School. -- Tim Reeves
PROPERTY DAMAGE: Director of the parks and recreation department, Elton Reece, looks over some of the more recent damage at a field located behind Edgewood Elementary School. -- Tim Reeves

Fields are being ravaged by thieves stealing fencing, poles

Published 7:39pm Wednesday, June 5, 2013

To listen to Elton Reece, director of the Selma Parks and Recreation Department, as he walks around one of the city’s many baseball fields, you can hear a man disappointed, heartbroken almost, at the amount of damage.

For a man who has spent a majority of his life playing, coaching and living sports, particularly baseball to see the theft and damage that has been caused at a number of Selma’s baseball fields, must be troubling.

Over the past few months, thieves have been slowly dismantling some of the baseball fields, reportedly selling off the metal poles for scrap and “God knows what” with the 6-foot chain-link fencing.

“First they come by and take the top rails. Then they come back and clip the links. Then they come back another time and take a section of fencing. Then they come back and take the poles in the ground,” Reece said, walking around the baseball field located behind Edgewood Elementary School. “You know they have to be making a heck of a lot of noise when they do this, and you’re telling me none of these folks living right over here haven’t heard anything, seen anything.”

Reece said some of the theft had to involve heavy tools and even cutting torches.

“It’s happened at a number of parks, some worse than others,” Reece said. “But the bad thing is now we are forced with the decision of whether or not we can even replace what has been stolen.”

Rough estimates have replacement costs well above $20,000, and even that number Reece is not sure of.

“Right now, most of these fields are used as practice fields during the youth season, but the schools use the fields that are near them,” Reece said. “This is not only bad for us, but it’s bad for the kids.”

If they city decides not replace the fencing and poles, they might be forced to remove light poles from the parks because they are “now in play” or the city will be forced to install safety padding.

While some parks have had repairs made, because the East Selma season, others are likely not to see any work.

“At this point, we’re not only worried about the children, but we’re worried about the condition of the parks as well,” Reece said. “The fences weren’t just to keep the game within the field, but it also helped keep four-wheelers and other vehicles off the fields. Now, in some cases, there is nothing stopping them from rushing right in.”

Reece said the department has made reports with the police department about the thefts and has notified area recycling yards about the possibility of poles and fencing possibly being brought in as scrap.

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