Way back at the start of the McEuen hoo-ha, the city made a deal with the baseball folks: The baseball people should be quiet and not make a big stink or write letters to the editor or speak out at meetings, and in return?...the city promised them “equal or better” for the ball field at McEuen.
But now it’s becoming all too clear that someone’s getting bamboozled, and it’s not the city!
The city plans to replace the ball field by moving it to new property on Cherry Hill, and the city council will vote tomorrow night on buying that land. Price tag: $550,000. We’ll see how that all turns out, because the city can’t afford to buy it right now; they don’t have enough money in their Parks fund. Will they just shove it through anyway? Come to watch in person or tune in on Channel 19 at 6:00 pm. But let’s move on to “equal or better”:
Right now the American Legion teams have a sweet spot on McEuen, and it’s one they love. They have first dibs on scheduling, they can run their own concessions stand, and they don’t have to pay to practice or play.
The proposed new field on Cherry Hill will cost an estimated $2.7 million to build. Who has the money? Not the city. Not American Legion. Can’t be LCDC because it’s outside their district. So who will pay?
The city introduced the Legion people to a professional fundraiser! How’s that for “we’ll provide you with equal or better.” Not only that, but this professional keeps 20% of all the donations, which makes the task even more daunting.
Another possible option in the works is a semi-pro baseball team that some private guys are trying to bring to town. Would the semi-pro team pay to build the field? If they did, they would get first rights to everything, leaving the American Legion teams to beg for leftover practice slots and unwanted game times. Legion would not get the concession revenues and they’d have to pay to practice and play.
Does this sound like “equal or better” to you?
Every member of the old city council, along with Mayor Bloem, promised that equal or better facilities would be in place before any services are removed from McEuen. In fact, Councilman Mike Kennedy wrote on a local internet blog, two years ago, in Feb.2010, ”I’m on the record supporting keeping the Legion ballfields on McEuen, their historic home. I’ll continue to support that.”
There’s another important reason to pay close attention to the Legion ball field issue, and that is the 3rd Street Boat Launch. If the city is willing to play fast and loose with its promise to the baseball folks, what will they do about the boat launch?
Well, listen up, people, they are not waiting for equal or better: The city is going to cut the boat launch down to only two lanes, and they're going to do it very soon!
At the LCDC meeting last week, Deanna Goodlander and Doug Eastwood said the Third St. boat launch will be trimmed down to 2 lanes, instead of the current 5 lanes, and the trailer parking will be moved over near city hall. There were even comments that it might jam things up because people will have to leave their boats, after launching, to go park their trailers, then walk all the way back while other boaters wait for their turn.
Is this the city’s way of reducing the quality of the boat launch? They openly admitted, at the LCDC meeting, that they’ve purposefully withheld maintenance and upkeep on the launch. Will they then be able to replace it with “equal or better” compared to a cracking two lane launch with distant parking? (link below for more info on this)
Watching how the baseball people are being manipulated, it would not surprise me.
I hope the baseball and boating folks show up to the council meeting tomorrow night at 6:00 pm in the community room of the new library by city hall. I hope lots of other supporters show up too. It’s not time to sit down and be quiet, it’s time to stand up and speak out!