B’ham Parks and Rec holds special forum to discuss MLB youth training facility

MLB Youth Academy vote

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - On Tuesday, the Birmingham City Council gave Mayor Randall Woodfin the green light to begin negotiations with the Major League Baseball Youth Association.

The resolution passed 8-1 with council President Valarie Abbot opposing. If an agreement is reached, the MLB would open a youth training facility at George Ward Park in Glen Iris.

The facility would consist of six baseball fields, and indoor training areas, and be open to 1,500 youth learning baseball and life skills.

Some Neighbors expressed concerns about not wanting the academy at George Ward Park for many reasons including, location, safety, access, and transparency during the process.

“I understand there are a lot of at-risk children and I’m being a little selfish- there are plenty that are risk,” neighbor John Joseph complained about security concerns once the academy was operational.

Steven Foster, 5 Point South Neighborhood Association, proposed the council pass a resolution that requires them to be transparent with the community concerning future projects.

“A lot of this may have been avoided, with the delay with what’s coming from it, if more transparency was there. If more communication had been put forth," Foster said.

William Parker, Chair of Birmingham Parks and Recreations and Cultural Arts Committee acknowledged the committee did not communicate well during this process.

"We want to use this as a teachable moment. How do we move forward so this doesn't happen again? This is the first in a series of meetings that we need to have with the community. These meetings will be on-going because I think it's important that we make sure we are all on the same page and build that trust. But, it has to be a two way street,” said Parker.

Parker said rumors on where the MLB will operate at George Ward Park are not all true.

“At George Ward Park, the only area that’s going to be improved on is up where the softball fields are. So, the areas down at the bottom, the disc Frisbee football, it’s not going to be affected. The tennis courts, dog park, I heard all of that, that’s not going to be affected,” said Parker.

The MLB, according to city council, is going to invest up to $10 million into building the baseball complex.

We reached out to the MLB for a response on Tuesday’s vote. The program has no comment.

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