Mount Airy's Babe Ruth players may be rounding the bases under the lights next year if the Frederick County commissioners accept the town council's choice of designs for the ball diamond at Twin Ridge Elementary School.
At its Monday night meeting, the town council voted 4-1 in favor of a $210,000 design plan that would feature 290-foot foul lines, an eight-foot fence, dugouts and 90-foot-high lights.
The council also told William J. Brennan Jr., the engineer who designed the field, to shorten the distance between home plate and the backstop from 40 feet to 20 feet and add the extra 20 feet to the outfield.
Before the vote, however, the council complained that the fields -- which are laid out but not finished -- were not built to site plan specifications and must be regraded before children can play on them.
"It's like playing on a washboard," said Council President Delaine Hobbs, at the council's meeting Monday night.
In addition, Councilman Marc Nance contended that the town ought to insist on some grading work, accept the field and then collect $200,000 from Frederick County for use in future town park projects.
The $200,000, Mr. Nance said, would be the difference between the $210,000 Frederick County would spend on the fields if it accepts the town's choice of designs and the $10,000 it would cost to regrade the fields.
"We're not sure what property we might come into further down the road," he said.
"We already have a ball field. All we're doing is adding lights and dugouts to it."
The lights, officials said, would cost $109,000.
Other council members said the current fields are too small for older children's regulation games and said lights would double the playing time on the Twin Ridge site. They also said it would be unrealistic to expect Frederick County to give Mount Airy the money in lieu of the work.
"We will never see the money," said Mr. Hobbs. "We've got kids running out the ears that need a place to play now, not down the road. We have to get these fields as fast as we possibly can."
Earlier, the Frederick County commissioners had verbally agreed to spend $385,000 on a lighted ball diamond and other playing fields in exchange for land to build Twin Ridge Elementary.
Now Frederick County officials say they will regrade the fields, but claim they don't have to honor the agreement to spend the entire $385,000.
"The [Frederick County] school board [members] said they are not legally required to do anything," said Councilman David Pyatt, chairman of the town's parks and recreation committee.