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Balancing the needs of residents of the new Main-LaSalle housing development with other users of McCarthy Park, such as Little League baseball, is the goal of a community planning process now under way, residents were told Monday night.

About 25 people turned out for a community meeting at the Ken-Bailey Community Center sponsored by University District Council Member Betty Jean Grant.

There were questions and comments but little in the way of controversy or criticism.

The first phase of a $3 million project to renovate and expand the park from 25 to 35 acres is under way, and the city hopes to have five baseball fields ready for use in the spring. The wet summer delayed planting of grass, said parks coordinator Dennis Maloney. A football field, soccer field, three basketball courts and a jogging track that loops around the park also are under construction.

A second football field has been eliminated to allow for more passive recreation, Grant said.

James McAdory, vice president of Kensington Little League, which serves 500 to 700 youth each year, said the group went along with eliminating two baseball fields but wants to keep at least the five.

The park was created back in the 1960s to provide a place for the league to play, Maloney said.

The league has been displaced the last two seasons due to the park construction.

The city has allocated $400,000 for Phase II of the park, which includes three play areas, picnic areas, tennis courts, a splash pond and an in-line skating rink.

Currently there is neither room nor enough money for an ice skating rink, but Grant said she is prepared to allocate $500,000 from the $2 million set aside for each Council member for an outdoor ice rink.

Plans call for a full-time maintenance person at the facility, and an audience member said one won't be enough. "We'll be lucky to get one," Grant said. It will be up to the Little Leaguers to help keep the park clean, she said.

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