Diamond in the Rough
Coweta man behind field of dreams on Happy Valley
by Sarah Fay Campbell
Wondering what’s up with the baseball diamond being built at the corner of Happy Valley Circle and Hal Jones Road in north Coweta?
The diamond, storage shed and workout areas are being built by baseball enthusiast Luke Large, who formerly operated The Naturals Training Center on U.S. 29.
Large said that, when his landlord decided to double the rent on his training center facility, he had to look for other options. He found the property at Happy Valley and Hal Jones. He discovered that trying to use the property for commercial purposes would require an extensive amount of work and investment. If he were able to get the property rezoned for commercial use, he’d also have to make the facility handicapped accessible, build two restrooms and a stormwater pond and install about $20,000 worth of landscaping, Large said. “Not that I have anything against it, but I just can’t afford it,” Large said.
Under the existing residential zoning, the property can be used for “personal use.”
"Personal use can involve family and friends, not public or business use,” said Coweta Communications Manager Tom Corker. “If anything occurs outside the zoning classification, the owner will be warned” and then cited, Corker said.
Large owns a pest control company. “So anybody who wants to work with me, baseball-wise, you have to be a pest control customer of mine,” he said.
“I lost four baseball teams because of this. I can’t do it commercially anymore, I can’t have 12 parents pull up in cars,” he said.
Some people have expressed concerns about getting hit by baseballs while driving down the road.
But that won’t be an issue, Large said. “We’re not doing any live pitching ” Large said. “This is me hitting a ground ball and then the kids fielding it and throwing it to me,” he said. The infield can also be used for base running and sliding techniques.
“There will not be any games played, unless possibly a good, old-fashioned family reunion Wiffle ball game breaks out,” he said.
“I am doing this legally… it’s not that I am trying to do it illegally,” he said.
“I’m a big liberty person, I’m a big fighter for freedom,” Large said. He’s named the new facility Liberty Field. “I do know that government does have a role,” he said, but “I don’t think one size fits all."
Large said a passion of his has always been to “somehow take the business out of baseball.”
“And thorough my journey, I feel like I have accomplished that in a unique way,” he said.
“I have family, friends from my schools days and customers from my company… who have children who enjoy baseball/softball, who confide in me for direction,” said Large. “People support my company’s pest control services and in return I support their child’s path down their chosen sport. Best of both worlds."