City schools and parks agree on shared fields

Arrangements for use, maintenance formalized

High Schools

March 27, 2004|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Officials in Baltimore City's athletic department and its Department of Recreation and Parks have ironed out their differences over use and maintenance of the city's shared fields to accommodate both the interscholastic athletic schedule and recreational needs.

Both sides agreed to a "memorandum of understanding," that for the first time formalized arrangements for shared use and maintenance of fields and facilities shared by both departments.

"We are not anticipating any further challenges," said Vanessa C. Pyatt, city schools spokeswoman. "All of our immediate scheduling concerns have been resolved to our satisfaction."

Earlier this week, the first week of games for spring sports, several teams, mostly baseball teams, were unable to play or practice on off-campus fields that had served as their home fields for years.

Some city schools don't have enough on-campus space to support all of their athletic teams, especially in the spring, when there are seven outdoor sports. For example, Carver relies on the use of Leon Day Park, and Southern and Digital Harbor on Swann Park.

On Monday and Tuesday, however, athletic directors at those schools said they were told they could not use the fields. The same happened at Samuel L. Banks with its on-campus fields as well as at several other schools' off-campus locations.

However, the three fields at the center of the controversy, Swann Park, Leon Day Park and the Samuel L. Banks fields, were all in need of maintenance, said Robert Greene, recreation and parks department spokesman.

The fields around Banks, which has been a high school for only two years, are heavily used by recreation and parks for Little League games, Greene said.

"We just need to make sure those fields are in tip-top condition, so they can be utilized and utilized heavily over the season," Greene said.

Pyatt said those fields are still undergoing maintenance, but that the work should no longer interfere with the scheduling of games and practices.

However, she said, the Banks baseball team will cut its practices from three hours to two, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. to allow more time for evening recreation events.

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