News, Sports

Gerber Field concession stand needs attention

by Geoff Fox

The concession stand and press box at Gerber Field has had a leak in the roof for the last eight years and for the last four years, it has been rotted and mold has begun to grow.

Hancock Little League President Brandon Utermoehlen said the league had been told the issue would be fixed and since then it hasn’t been addressed.

Utermoehlen said this year, the league decided to shut that section of the concession stand down and only sell snacks because of the black mold.

He said he’s talked to town officials that he would buy the materials and have volunteers to do the work.

“If that’s the route we’re going to go, I just need to know what permits we need if any and if we pull the permits, is the working going to get stopped half way through,” he said.

Utermoehlen said the person he has looking at the building told him the plan is to frame the press box into the same size as the bottom, put the door at the top of the stairs, and put one roof over it.

The estimate would be less than $15,000 and Utermoehlen said he has at least a dozen people who would help with the work.

Councilman David Kerns said if they are increasing the size, then they’d need the permits.

Utermoehlen said he just put $7,000, a total matched by the league, into the Ansul fire suppression system at the ball field and didn’t want to put the $15,000 into a concession stand with a roof that could potentially fall in.

Hancock Little League officials asked the town to cover the $15,000 cost to fix and improve the concession stand and press box at Gerber Field. The concession stand has had leaks, rot, and mold issues for the last few years.

He’s also talked to Debbie Cohill about writing grants to help with things inside, including a possible large fryer similar to what is at Kirkwood Park.

Councilman David Kerns raised questions about the height of the concession stand ceiling and if it would be high enough for the new fire suppression equipment.

Utermoehlen said the ceiling is about seven feet high, which is what he’s been told is high enough for the system.

He added the system at Gerber didn’t have to be any bigger than the system at Kirkwood, which is 10 foot by 5 foot.

To eliminate the problematic area, Utermoehlen said they’d need to make the press box larger.

There is a wraparound deck on the press box that is screwed onto the roof of the concession stand. There’s also about five feet of the concession stand that abuts to the press box.

Mayor Roland Lanehart, Jr. said he and Councilmen Kerns and Patrick Norris, as well as Town Manager Mike Faith, went up to Gerber Field to look around and Norris said if what was there was torn off and a water and ice shield were put on, along with new siding, there’s be no issues with leaks.

“At this point, whatever we got to do,” Utermoehlen said.

Lanehart said if it were put back the same size, it wouldn’t need a permit. However, if the square footage were changed, there could be a need for permits.

Utermoehlen said the total costs would be just under $15,000 just for the roofing and he could get a few guys to help with the work.

To date, Utermoehlen said Hancock Little League has only made $1,500 from the Gerber Field concession state. Last year, in the same time frame, he said the league had made $6,000 from the concession stand.

Utermoehlen said he and Vice President Dustin Beal have “big plans” for the league, making things better for the kids, and improving the facilities.

“This hinders that ability,” he said about the issues at the concession stand.

There are opportunities for Hancock Little League to host state tournaments using Gerber Field.

Any time those are announced, Utermoehlen said he puts Hancock into consideration to not only bring in money for the league, but also for Hancock and the businesses in town.

“At this point, I’m tired of broken promises,” he said.

Utermoehlen said his biggest thing is he just wants to get the roof fixed.

In 2022, Councilman Josh McCusker said he had made a motion to have the concession stand fixed and it was approved, but nothing got done.

During the May town meeting, Councilman Richard Strong made a motion for the town to spend up to $15,000 to fix the concession stand at Gerber Field. McCusker seconded the motion and town officials unanimously approved the repairs.