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Village Vision News

Village ponders cost of diamond usage

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Is the Village being adequately compensated by the users of the ball diamonds in Forsyth Park?

Village Administrator Heather Kimmons said “no,” qualifying her answer by saying that it has never been the intent to recoup all expenses associated with preparing and providing the diamonds for use by nonprofit organizations such as Forsyth Youth League (FYL) or Maroa-Forsyth School District.

“It’s something we do as a goodwill gesture for the Forsyth Youth League and the same thing for the school district,” she said.

Approximately 300 youth from Maroa-Forsyth School District plus other Forsyth residents are FYL participants. Between 20 to 27 teams per season offer boys baseball and girls softball, according to Dave Wendt, the league’s treasurer for the past seven years.

“Our entire season/program is put on through the efforts of 11 volunteer board members and 45 to 50 volunteer coaches and assistant coaches,” Wendt said. He said these numbers do not reflect other active participants, including parents and other volunteers who help with scorekeeping, team organization and concession stand duties during each April through July ball season, he said.

Forsyth’s Public Works Department has been responsible for all maintenance of the ball diamonds since 2000. At that time, Village trustees decided that FYL should contribute a $20 preparation charge per diamond, or $45 for all three diamonds. Since that time, a fourth diamond has been added but no additional compensation was assigned, according to Public Works Director Larry Coloni. Additionally, a two-tier charge exists for all non-FYL teams with guidelines that include a $20 fee per field to place the bases, or $60 per field to prepare the ball diamond with bases, chalked lines, but no lights. A $10 charge is tacked on for lighting for these groups.

Conversely, Maroa-Forsyth School District pays no fees to the Village for its use of ball diamonds No. 4 and 5, but does use school district personnel and equipment to maintain the fields from March until the end of May when the school year ends. The diamonds were built to meet high school specifications with the district using these fields during the school season.

Village staff is analyzing the actual costs that the Village incurs for prepping the fields, providing electricity and garbage service and maintaining the fields and concession stands. Kimmons and Coloni met recently to discuss these costs and offered a “guesstimate” of $8,600 for the season. “This is a conservative number,” Kimmons said. In contrast, Village Treasurer Rhonda Stewart provided records showing that FYL has been billed a total of $1,745 for 37 multiple field preparations for the 2011 season.

Wendt earlier told trustees that FYL has made additional efforts to supplement the payment it contributes to the Village through the assessed fees. Among them, the league has donated an air conditioning unit to the concession stand and made ball diamond upgrades, he said. Wendt also showed the trustees his projections that indicated the league brings in approximately $100,000 in total annual sales revenues to Forsyth restaurants and other businesses as a result of family visits before or after the games.

While stressing that the Village is not seeking to recoup all its costs, Kimmons said it has been in excess of 10 years since the Village has discussed the ball diamond fees.

“It’s time to re-evaluate and update,” she said. Additionally, she said it is incumbent upon the Village to make a formal contract with each group and to re-think what is considered an equitable figure since a new ball diamond has been added.

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