An Elm Grove ballfield may soon become handicapped-friendly, both for playing and watching.
The city of Wheeling is now accepting bids to install Americans With Disabilities Act improvements at the J.B. Chambers Youth Sports Complex, also known as the Interstate 470 ballfields.
City Recreation Director Tom Bechtel said this will make the five ballfields more accessible to those with physical disabilities.
"We're trying to make the place a little user-friendly," he said.
Plans include paved walkways from paved parking to paved areas specifically designed for the handicapped. Also, better access to the now ADA-compliant bathrooms as well as a ramped skirt will lead to the concession stand.
A temporary ramp had been built for the bathrooms, but is intended for replacement.
The receipt deadline for contractor bids will be at 2 p.m. June 16 in the city manager's office, third floor, City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St., Wheeling.
Bechtel said the job will be quick and easy and should begin in late July or early August. He added the only obstacle will be having to work around baseball schedules.
This project has been a long time coming, Bechtel said.
He recalled a friend who, some years ago, would watch his son play baseball. That friend was bound to a wheelchair, and Bechtel remembered that man trying to push his way through the mud to get close enough to see the game.
For those with disabilities wanting to play and not watch, the Miracle League of the Ohio Valley Field, which will specially build one of the five fields, is "within 10 percent" of its goal, according to Wheeling resident and fundraising chairwoman Lorraine McCardle.
To build a field compliant with Miracle League specifications, a recent estimate of $803,000 is needed, which was higher than expected. With some "major donations," McCardle said nearly $100,000 has been raised since it was announced that another $200,000 was needed.
She added construction will likely begin this month for the grounds, bathrooms and paving; however, the planned concession stand will likely wait longer.
On Friday evening, Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center hosted a fundraiser at the sports complex to benefit the Miracle Field, but no total amount raised has yet been confirmed.