Some Sud-Ouest residents are upset after their borough closed down a Little Burgundy baseball field because of too many stray balls flying out of the field and (at times) onto the terrasses of nearby restaurants.
Vinet Park’s baseball and softball diamond was abruptly closed on Thursday to the dismay of some residents — and the restaurant that highlighted the stray balls as a problem.
The closure appears to have been triggered by a single complaint from the owner of Joe Beef, Liverpool House, and Vin Papillon, all of which have terrasses just metres away from the baseball diamond. Owner David McMillan says that this summer, numerous balls have landed around the Liverpool House terrasse in particular, as well as Joe Beef’s garden; Radio-Canada reports one particular incident where a ball knocked over multiple glasses alongside a group of federal politicians dining on the terrasse.
But it’s not just the restaurants that are affected by fast-moving balls — McMillan says that people using the alley (which also has parking spaces for a nearby library) have had near misses, and that car windows have also been smashed.
“I saw a woman get grazed the other day, and I saw the baseball players break the windshield of a car and lean into the driver’s seat to retrieve it.”
According to city officials, several complaints were made (including the one from Joe Beef), and the city is planning to put nets in, allowing for a reopening, although the timeframe for this is unclear.
McMillan says the restaurant filed just one complaint to the city this year, and has never complained about stray balls in past years, noting that the calibre of players has become a lot more intense this year, possibly due to the closure of another baseball diamond in Jeanne-Mance Park on the Plateau.
“We seem to have big dudes, semi pro-outfitted teams that can really hit the ball hard as opposed to before when it was just kids or locals.”
On local Facebook pages for St-Henri residents and the neighbourhood’s merchants association, some questioned why the Joe Beef group couldn’t put up its own net. McMillan says he’s willing to do that but it wouldn’t protect the ruelle behind the restaurants.
“Even if we set up a net to protect our staff and customers it will still be dangerous for the 25-car library and daycare parking lot, and many local families use the alley as a short cut.”
Plus, McMillan says that the city jumped straight to closing down the Vinet baseball diamond without any consultation, that he wasn’t contacted by the city, and that he felt a net alongside the field was the best solution, not a closure.
“We’re not at all for the closure of the softball field in any shape or form.”