JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Local volunteers are setting out to help repair the Arlington Little League Park after vandals forced the baseball field to close.
The suspects still haven’t been caught and there was no surveillance video at the time of the crime.
The lights on the field have been shut off since November.
Horace Strickland remembers the damage he saw last year when thieves ravaged the baseball field not once, but twice, in October and November.
“It was just devastating to us because we were making such progress in the ballpark, and then they came through and just disrupted everything,” Strickland said.
Strickland is on the board of directors with the Arlington Lions Club and Arlington Little League.
He told Action News Jax that crooks broke into the baseball field by cutting a hole in the fence and once inside, they got away with $70,000 worth of electrical equipment.
The concession stand was also trashed, and the suspects also got away with about 100 cleats that were donated to the league.
The ball park has been a fixture in the community since the 1960s, giving kids in Arlington a place to play ball, including a challenger league for children with physical disabilities.
Now volunteers from Miller Electric Company and IBEW Labor Union 177 are stepping up to help.
“Saturday we’re going to replace the primary feeders from this transformer here behind me into the main distribution panels. Once we have that done, we can turn power back on and really see what else needs to be done out here,” Lynn Brannen, project manager for Miller Electric Company, said.
Strickland told us he’s grateful for the help.
“It was awesome you know we didn’t know what we were going to do. We were pacing the floors. We had no idea what to do, how to go about it. We got all these insurance claims out but none of them have come back yet,” he said.
Miller Electric Company told us the thieves were targeting this baseball field for its copper, which the company is replacing for free.
“It’s really nice for us to use copper instead of aluminum wire, but it has a downfall of being really expensive, so with the rises in metal, the price of copper has increased and the price of wire has increased,” Brannen said.
Once power is fully restored, the goal is to get these kids back out and playing on the baseball field by the spring.
“It’s just unbelievable that the city has come to the rescue of these little kids that play ball here,” Strickland said.
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