Mikel: Legends Field will open for play in 2012

Published 12:03 am Thursday, February 10, 2011

On Opening Day 2012, Johnson Park will reopen as Legends Field.

That will be the new name of the complex once renovations are complete, said Dwight Mikel, director of the City of Andalusia’s department of leisure services, as he updated members of the Andalusia Rotary Club Tuesday with news of the Johnson Park project.

“And that’s April 2012,” Mikel said. “Things may look slow, but we’re on schedule. The easiest way I can tell for people to gauge our progress is this – if you don’t see grass growing in the growing season, you know we’re behind.

“A lot of you already know this, but there’s going to be eight fields,” he said. “Chick Earl Field will be the benchmark of the facility. The council didn’t want to name the other fields after individual people because there have been tons of people who have done a tremendous amount for youth sports. The plan is to create a ‘Legends Wall.’

“We’ll have 25-30 to start with, and then add four or five each year to recognize their contributions to youth sports,” he said. “There are a lot of deserving people whose name would never make it on a field.”

Plans are under way to assemble a list of candidates, and it is expected the council will appoint a committee to do the selections, he said.

Currently, crews are busy at Johnson Park on number things, such as installing the new state-of-the-art lighting and PA system, he said.

As for the physical look of the park, Mikel said all the fields will be irrigated, and the new concession stand will be identical to the one at the sports complex.

“Plus, with the new sound system, we’ll be able to make park-wide announcements, and we’ll be able to control the lighting system from anywhere with the use of a Blackberry,” he said.

“Parking has been a big concern,” he said. “No longer will children have to cross the lot to get to another field. We’ve negotiated a lease with the Palmer family for some land adjacent to Palmer and Sons. That spot will be used as parking.”

Mikel said the park will not include a regulation sized field; instead the city felt it was more beneficial to utilize the fields at the Andalusia High School and at LBW Community College – a move that saved $400,000 by not building a new field.

“It’s taken a long time for things to get to this point,” he said, speaking of the overall project. “It was actually a benefit, because we were able to evaluate things and do it right.”