LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Kit McConnico Park has been closed since it was destroyed by the December tornado. As Lufkin's Parks and Recreation Department surveys the damage - they've had to make some hard decisions.
The Lufkin Parks and Recreation Department is taking stock of tornado-ravaged Kit McConnico Park and planning where to go from here.
"We're still working with insurance and contractors on getting the structure repaired," said Steve Floyd, Director of Public Works & Acting Director of Parks & Recreation.
There's good news and bad news. The good: youth soccer should start mid-February as planned. The bad: softball players will have to wait until May.
"We've canceled adult leagues that typically start in March. We're just not going to be ready," said Floyd.
"We've thought long and hard, and we do not want to cancel, but if you don't have lights to play under and the safety factor of being out here. We can't have people out here in this situation," added Mike Akridge, Recreation Superintendent.
The broken lights are part of a complex system that covers the park. Without lights there are no night games; no night games means no softball in Lufkin.
Many teams will have to wait an expected four months to hit the field again.
"Co-ed , women, men... everybody loves to come out and play softball," listed Akridge.
Last year, 286 teams from across the region played softball in Kit McConnico.
"Lufkin, Texas is a softball minded town. Per capita we probably have as many people play as any town in Texas. So they're missing out on the fun," said Akridge.
The local economy and the city will miss the money.
"We figure anytime we miss a league we probably lose about 20-30 thousand dollars in revenue," said Akridge.
It's now the priority of the Parks and Recreation Department to get the park up and running so players can hear 'play ball' as soon as possible.
"I'm just ready to get it open so we can people out to play," said Floyd.
"We will fence this off and once we get the lights - we'll be ready to roll," added Akridge.
Some good news, though- the annual softball tournament played in February will still be held - just not at Kit McConnico. It will be held at Morris Frank Park, and fields in Hudson and Central.