The Anna City Council approved an action to remove the Sherley Park baseball field to make way for a historical train depot. Many residents are on opposite sides of the proverbial fence when it comes to how they feel about the action.
NBC 5 reported that Anna resident Josh Gerving was upset over the demolition of the ball park. “”Extremely surprised and really disappointed,” Gerving said to the news station.
In a letter to the Anna Area Historical Preservation Society, Gerving asked for a compromise. “Please reconsider the former submittal to integrate the train depot and the field TOGETHER,” Gerving’s letter reads. “If this could happen, what would it say about people in Anna coming together to achieve and complete a project where everyone wins? A combination of the depot and the ballpark could be a spectacular venue. USSSA tournaments could be played at this ballpark bringing even more attention and business to the Depot and downtown. It be a unique venue. One that would be unlike any other in North Texas.”
However, Interim City Manager Maurice Schwanke said that is not a possible solution. “Sherley Field is a small facility and is not sized adequately for sanctioned play,” Schwanke said. “It has only been used for practice purposes. Adequate facilities are now available at Slayter Creek Park to handle sanctioned games and practices. including adequate parking and lighting. Additionally, Anna ISD no longer utilizes two of the fields making them totally available for games and practices. As such, the fields are underutilized. If you contact the Anna Parks Department Superintendent, we can facilitate your needs.”
Not all the residents are against the idea of the historical train depot. Resident Bill Morgan said he believes it will draw attention to the area. “I actually like the idea,” Morgan said. “From what I hear, local youth sports organizers were consulted, and alternate practice locations have been identified. I think the train depot museum and eventual train cars will make a good beginning to there being attractions that will encourage people to spend time in the downtown Anna area.”
Schwanke said this decision has not been taken lightly. “The moving of the original Anna depot has been in the works for over ten years by the Anna Historical Society and the city,” Schwanke said. “The Anna Downtown Development Plan that was adopted by the city council of the City of Anna in July of 2015 also contemplated this action. This year the Parks Board on July 17 recommended a repurposing of Sherley Park from a ball field to the location of the Historical Anna Train Depot. Input was also received from two original builders of the fields, both are former Anna mayors, that the city would be better served by allowing the repurposing. The current Anna Sports Group President was also contacted concerning the actions and offered no objection.”
The plans for the depot will include much of Anna’s history, Schwanke said. “Since the time the Park Board met, the Historical Society has been working on details to relocate the train depot to Sherley Park. Plans for the interior of the Depot include a model train diorama, a model of the original downtown — two thirds of which is already built — and historical pictures with explanations of the history of Anna. It is anticipated that once the building is moved and renovated that it will be given to the city with a long-term lease agreement with the Historical Society to run the day to day activities within the facility. Other improvement to the park would be a statue of Collin McKinney, several box cars on rails beside the depot and potentially a pavilion with restrooms on the eastern part of the tract.”
Some residents are seeing more issues than just the demolition of a baseball practice field. On a petition website, residents are voicing support to keep Sherley Field. One user of the website wrote that less people will visit the depot and blamed the mayor. “I guarantee you that less people will visit the up and coming project if it were to finish than who already occupy this land now. The city (probably just the crazy mayor) wants more use this land but will end up getting less,” the post reads.
Another online poster used the petition as a platform for the upcoming election in May. “Why can they not incorporate both!? I support the depot, but not to tear down the baseball field for the depot. You can thank the current parks board for this one,” the poster wrote on the website. “Pike for Mayor and watch this town prosper and our community turn into a community we can all be proud to be a part of. Let’s stop the division the prior mayor created!”
A third poster wrote he does not understand the thought process of the Anna City Council. “It’s hard to imagine the thinking of a city council sometimes. Remove something that is currently used, appreciated, and highly valued for its function and character, to install something that is little more than decoration,” the poster wrote.
Anna Parks Advisory Board member Stan Carver said that there are no professional ball players that are noted as being from Anna, and it is possibly because of Sherley Field. “While I had hoped that we turned out at least one Major League Baseball player, the MLB rosters don’t show anyone claiming Anna as their place or origin,” Carver said. “Perhaps, it’s because we’ve not given our offspring a regulation-sized field like Sherley Park.”
Carver stated the Parks Advisory Board visited the baseball field and found the area was more suitable for the train depot. “I have made multiple trips to Sherley Park,” Carver said. “I’ve even knocked a few baseballs there myself. While the nostalgia in me likes the baseball field amid the historic water tower and the Christian Church, the field is undersized, dilapidated and ultimately unsafe.”
This past weekend, Carver said he was out at the field, and even though there was activity, it was not for baseball. “I was at Sherley Park Saturday and Sunday afternoon,” Carver said. “There was plenty of sunshine and nice weather. The only visitors were there to see our historical markers.”
Carver noted that some of the nay-sayers are doing so out of spite. “Recognize that those that have chosen to protest now, are doing so out of apathy to be involved with our Parks Advisory Board or our Community Action Planning Committee,” Carver said. “Both have received invites from me personally to attend. To date, only five citizens have attended the Parks Advisory Board meetings in the years I’ve been appointed-none of who are protesting now.”