Optimist Field

The La Grande City Council has approved a three-year plan for Eastern Oregon University’s baseball team to play at Optimist Field in Pioneer Park when it takes the field in 2021.

LA GRANDE — The city of La Grande will be helping Eastern Oregon University revive its baseball program.

The La Grande City Council voted Monday, Aug. 3, to enter into a three-year agreement with Eastern Oregon University that will allow it to play games and practice at Pioneer Park’s Optimist Field starting next spring when Mountaineer baseball returns.

EOU announced in 2019 it would reinstate baseball after cutting it in 2006 for financial reasons. Eastern, however, does not have a home field because the field house is set to be built where its old diamond, Snowflake Field, once was.

La Grande Parks and Recreation Director Stu Spence said he is glad to help Eastern revive its baseball program.

“We all want baseball,” Spence said.

Eastern, however, will not be able to practice or play games at Optimist Field in the late winter and early spring when conditions are very wet and the field more vulnerable to damage.

“We will be protecting the field,” said Spence, noting this will be critical because others also use Optimist Field, including La Grande High School.

Tim Seydel, EOU’s vice president for university advancement, said Tuesday he is pleased with the agreement.

“It is awesome that we have a facility like this already in La Grande that the team can use,” Seydel said.

He said Eastern is planning to build a baseball facility on campus. One site under consideration is near the softball field, which is in the southwest corner of campus. Seydel said one advantage of building a baseball diamond there would be sharing resources, such as water and parking.

In another move Monday night, the city council voted to table a proposal to have La Grande residents decide on a 3% tax on marijuana.

The city had scheduled a second reading for the tax ordinance for Monday’s meeting, which would have allowed the council to vote and put the measure on the ballot for the Nov. 3 general election. The council though, acting on the advice of City Manager Robert Strope, decided to table the measure.

Strope said he made the recommendation because there is now no need the measure.

Earlier this year Rona Lindsey, owner of HWY30 Cannabis, the La Grande medical marijuana dispensary, started a petition asking residents to consider repealing the local ban on the sale of recreational marijuana.

Lindsey had until July 6 to submit her petition to the city, but she did not submit a petition by the deadline. Strope said it would not make sense to have the measure on the ballot because there would be nothing to tax.

Strope added that having the measure on the ballot also could confuse voters by making it appear the sale of recreational marijuana in La Grande is legal or about to be.

General assignment reporter

Beats include the communities of North Powder, Imbler, Island City and Union, education, Union County veterans programs and local history. Dick joined The Observer in 1983, first working as a sports and outdoors reporter.

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