Glass shards close four Howard baseball fields

1,800 players affected as dirt is sifted for debris

May 10, 2000|By Larry Carson | By Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Schedules for the 1,800-player Western Howard County Youth Baseball League were thrown into disarray this week, after dirt that had been spread on four ball fields was found to contain glass fragments and the fields were closed.

The county ordered two fields closed Monday at Alpha Ridge Community Park in West Friendship, one at Rockburn Branch Park in Elkridge and another at Waterloo Park, until the Baltimore County company that supplied the dirt resifts it and removes the glass.

No one was injured on the fields, though the 80 tons of dirt was dumped and spread as long as one month ago, officials said.

"It looks like we're going to have it resolved by the end of the week," said John Byrd, the county's chief of the Bureau of Parks. He said the glass isn't very noticeable, though pieces up to 1 inch in size were found at Alpha Ridge.

Egypt Farms, the 40-year-old White Marsh company that provided dirt to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, also supplied the county's baseball field dirt. The company gets its dirt from construction sites and then sifts it to remove rocks, glass and other foreign materials. But a problem with a new sifter allowed glass to slip through in dirt delivered to Fairfax County, Va., and Howard County, said Dean Snyder, company president.

"We were demonstrating new equipment, and the manufacturer didn't tell us the screens have to be adjusted twice a day," he said.

Snyder said his company will be in Howard today to scoop up the tainted dirt and replace it. It will cost the company "several thousand dollars per field," he said.

Paul Parrish, the volunteer director of the Western Howard County Youth Baseball League, said his 13-14-year-old and 15-17-year-old teams were scheduled to play at Alpha Ridge every night this week. "It's going to put us back a week," he said. "It's going to be a problem."

More than 20,000 baseball and softball players use Howard County's 39 fields. No extra fields are available for teams to use until the glass is removed, officials said.

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