Lake Shore ball fields use debated

November 18, 1994|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

The Lake Shore Athletic Council and the county Department of Recreation and Parks are in a heated debate pitting Little League baseball against adult softball.

The department wants to use one of the council's seven baseball diamonds for adult softball six nights a week next spring. Council members say the fields should be used for children.

The two groups met at the Lake Shore Athletic Complex last night but didn't reach a decision. The council did propose that the adults use two fields at Downs Memorial Park or use the complex's lighted field in the evening, after the children finish.

"The primary problem is how much they will use the field," said Rick Hare, president of the council.

Next spring will be the first time baseball teams will play on the fields since the complex opened in August. The debate over using the lighted field has come up now because the parks department is creating schedules for its programs, including adult softball.

Parks department programs have priority over the council's programs. The final schedules will be issued early next year.

Jack Keene, who represented the parks department at the meeting, said he could not answer questions about scheduling of the adult teams, but that he would discuss the council's ideas with Joseph Cannon, the director of the department.

"We think it's fair and reasonable that the adults have use of 10 percent of this facility," he said referring to the complex's 10 athletic fields. Three are used for basketball, soccer or lacrosse.

"How can you say that kids should be the only ones to use the facility?" he asked.

But Joan Harris, director of Lake Shore Youth Baseball, said, "We don't have enough fields as it is."

Ms. Harris said she has about 54 teams -- or 750 children -- registered in her baseball program.

The Lake Shore Girls Athletic Association has 450 members registered to play softball, and there are other independent groups that may apply to use the Lake Shore facility. These groups could have an additional 300 members.

In previous years, Ms. Harris' group has used Looper's field, a private facility in Pasadena that has seven fields, but that land is now up for sale.

The Athletic Council is responsible for scheduling at the complex and at Bodkin Park, but the four fields at Bodkin are for softball only.

"It certainly seems to me that baseball is getting the short end of this. I'm not going to take this thing sitting down," Ms. Harris said.

Donald Ruland, a recreation superintendent, said the Athletic Council knew of the department's intentions before the complex opened.

"This is something that was agreed to before construction even began," he said.

"I guess some folks feel that all of the youth activity should stop once a person reaches a certain age. We feel that youth sports have a carry-over value. We do feel that adults have a right to play too, and that we should provide the facility," Mr. Ruland added.

But Mr. Hare said the department is wrong.

"The deal was -- and I know because I made the deal -- that at the most they would use it one to two nights a week," Mr. Hare said. "I think they have a short memory."

He added that there are other problems with sharing the field with adults.

"They used to use Bodkin Park, and there was always problems with them; beer bottles, and trash and mess," he said, noting that the council is responsible for cleaning and upkeep of the Lake Shore property.

"We get $6,600 a year to maintain this park. [If the county does it,] it'll cost $80,000 a year. You mean to tell me we can't get no priority here?" he said.

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