Hudnut, Amato address Franklin Field concerns


By Jordan Freisleben

A meeting between the Army Corps of Engineers, Franklin Fields Incorporated, President of Harvard-Westlake Thomas C. Hudnut and Vice President of Harvard-Westlake John Amato on Dec. 28 subdued the neighbors’ complaints about refurbishing the field for Wolverine baseball teams, Director of Campus Operations Jim DeMatté said.

The Dec. 28 public hearing was a response to several protests, and was held in order to clarify the school’s plans for the field.

“[Neighbors] had an issue about a batting cage in right field, but they had no knowledge of what it was and what it looked like,” DeMatté said. “They were really worried about us coming in and building a stadium, and that’s not the case. This is basically just an upgrade to an existing facility—everything is the same, for the most part.”

Construction on the field started in late November and DeMatté hopes to have the project completed by mid-March. The original completion date, Feb. 20, was pushed back due to rain.

“The neighbors’ issues are actually with the Franklin Field people themselves from over the years not following the rules and not being good neighbors,” DeMatté said. “Honestly, because [Harvard-Westlake] is in the middle of a construction project, we took a little bit of the brunt of it.”

Franklin Fields Incorporated has been leasing the field from the Army Corps of Engineers since 1979. Harvard-Westlake has played baseball there for the past 30 years.

“The neighbors were more concerned with how the facility was run for the last 20 years, [rather] than what Harvard-Westlake was doing to spruce up the field,” he said.

Many of the neighbors’ concerns were misconceptions of what the refurbishing actually entails, DeMatté said.

At the meeting, DeMatté made a two hour presentation explaining the entirety of the project to 80 neighbors.

“I presented the whole project to the neighbors, and after that they really calmed down,” he said.