Outfield flub is no grounds for suit
From: Frederick Everhart
How can it be? A softball player, through his Laurel attorney, is suing the Recreation and Parks Department for $100,000 due to its alleged negligence in keeping the park's playing fields in a safe condition. It is alleged that the player received a broken nose when he was hit by the ball while slipping on wet grass.
Having some knowledge of fielding a ball, I have to wonder if indeed slipping was the proximal cause of the injury. Arms are not attached to the legs. Even when the legs go, the gloved hand can react to the ball within reach.
During the past year I've played on a Howard County softball team. We have played on ball fields in this and two other counties in Maryland. We have played in tournaments in Virginia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Nowhere we played have we found ball fields maintained any better than those in this county. In many instances they are much worse.
Playing conditions, wet grass? In Virginia we played in a torrential downpour for several innings. We've played where there are real hindrances, such as stones and depressions in both the infield and outfield.
Yes, we are subject to slipping and sliding occasionally and trying to field a bad bounce on a graveled infield. We even lose the ball in the sun, which is a real hazard. But that's the nature of the game.
I am sorry to see this action taken against Recreation and Parks. This department excels in its responsibility and its maintenance procedures. It is a benchmark for others to follow.
Council's initiatives deserve our praise
From: Alex Hekimian
The Columbia Council should be complimented for two new initiatives at the neighborhood pools.
The first is the installation of solar water heaters at the pools. The solar heater at the Stevens Forest pool has certainly made it more appealing to residents, especially during the month of June, when the water temperature is normally still too cool for many users.
This is a cost-effective feature that will make pool memberships more attractive because residents will be able to use the pools comfortably over a much longer period than before.
The council should prepare a phasing schedule for installing such solar heaters at all neighborhood pools. By so doing, CA would avoid the problems of some pools with heaters siphoning away users from other pools without heaters, particularly during the cooler weeks, and causing overcrowding at some pools and poor attendance at others.
The second initiative that most residents have appreciated is the discounted single-admission coupon program for the least-used pools.
This program, which was proposed by Wilde Lake's newly elected representative Norma Rose, allows people to use the pools for a limited number of visits at a much lower single admission price than before.
In subsequent years, the council should alter the program to make it fairer for the residents who buy seasonal memberships. A comparable number of limited visits to the least used pools should be provided free of charge for guests of members.
Although CA has received its share of criticism in recent years, it's also important to recognize CA when it earns our praise. These two initiatives show a new willingness by the Columbia Council and CA staff to make CA's facilities more accessible and affordable for a wider cross-section of Columbia's taxpayers.
(Alex Hekimian is the president of the Alliance for a Better Columbia.)