The Bellevue Coed Softball League got a go-ahead from the Bellevue City Council on Monday to use O’Donnell Park for games from June 22 through Aug. 10.

League Director Jamie Ulrich presented plans to the City Council on Monday that include social distancing and sanitization protocols to reduce the risk of transmission of the COVID-19. She said in an interview that she read the governor’s orders regarding stage four coronavirus protocols and followed all the recommendations, waiting until stage four had gone into effect to gather the six teams for the summer season.

“There won’t be any hand-shaking or high fives,” Ulrich said. “We are starting about a month late, but I’m grateful that it’s happening at all.”

There will be only two teams at the park at a time, rather than three. They will play doubleheaders on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The dugouts will be sanitized before and after games.

“Softball is naturally self-distancing,” Ulrich said. “With 10 people on a 285-foot field [from home plate to the outfield fence] you are pretty spread out.”

Ulrich said that with “a minimum number of spectators” there will be well under 50 people at the ballfield at a time.

“Softball is a lifestyle for me and I’m very passionate about it,” Ulrich said. “My kids grew up around softball fields and I want to make sure young people can continue to play here.”

About five year ago, the league moved from Hailey, redeveloped O’Donnell Park and installed fencing. The league rents the field from the city and runs the season itself.

Ulrich sought from the City Council permission to use the park under specific coronavirus protocols but was instead allowed to move forward under existing park rental permit regulations. The team players sign standard accident waivers already, Ulrich said.

Bellevue City Attorney Rick Allington said there was nothing in city code that required additional considerations due to the coronavirus, but that the city could explore that in the future.

“This should be more generally about what we’re going to allow in our parks,” Allington said. Mayor Ned Burns recommended moving ahead with approval so the league could get started.

“We can have a more overarching discussion about park use at a later date,” Burns said.

The first softball game will take place on June 22, with the Whitehead Landscaping team playing Mahoney’s Restaurant.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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