Dear Newsletter Readers,
I am so stunned I hardly have words to start this newsletter. The front page of yesterday’s Press (center above) featured Ron Ouren’s big smiling face as he was holding up detailed, professionally designed renderings of a baseball facility at Cherry Hill. My jaw dropped.
It takes serious planning to produce professional layouts complete with locker rooms, a baseball museum and a Hall of Fame. I’m guessing these were months in the making, if not longer. And who made the plans?...Team McEuen!
So why was there not one word about these plans at last week’s city council meeting? CdA Parks Director Doug Eastwood requested the council’s approval to buy the Cherry Hill land but he never mentioned these plans by Team McEuen, even when he was grilled by council members Ron Edinger and Dan Gookin about the future use of the property. Doug told the council, and the public, the land might be a park or it might be a baseball field, it was uncertain.
Yet a mere one week later we see professional plans on the front page? I feel deceived once again by our highly paid Parks Director ($100,000 per year+ golden benefits. Photo on right above).
The Press started their feature article by calling this field the “proposed American Legion baseball stadium”. Yet, later in the article, it said that “American Legion Baseball board vice president Phil Robbins said this week the board is holding off commenting on the proposed complex until they have studied the plan”.
They haven’t seen the plan? If this is the “American Legion Stadium”, were they not involved in the process? Has the semi pro team, the RiverHawks, been part of the planning?...the Press article says the RiverHawks could not be reached for comment. That’s convenient.
And how can this be called “equal or better” compared to the Legion’s historic home field on McEuen, when they have to come up with $3 million dollars to build their own replacement?
My opinion? That the big baseball guys in town, like Ron Ouren, Harry Amend, Doug Eastwood and others, have wanted a semi pro team here for years. They had dreams of such a stadium going into the pit off of Ramsey Road, but then the Kroc Center came along and took that spot. Then they talked about something in Riverstone West, but it didn’t pan out. So now they are drooling over this Cherry Hill location.
(Were the Cherry Hill plans by Team McEuen paid for with LCDC dollars?...I hope not because Cherry Hill is not in the LCDC’s district.)
So now, after concerned comments about protecting American Legion baseball were made by Dan Gookin and Ron Edinger at last week’s city council meeting, the baseball big boys are making this all about the Legion, but the Legion apparently hasn’t even seen the plans!
I’m tired of the shell game. Mayor Sandi Bloem should not have broken the tie vote on the city council last week to approve the purchase of the Cherry Hill property that the city cannot afford right now. And these baseball big boys should not be shoving this semi pro plan on the public like it’s Christmas morning. This is not a gift! Half a million for the land and another $3 million for the baseball field---right now when the city is spending $17 million for the first part of McEuen’s glorious renovation and has a possible $4 million dollar legal settlement pending plus a Storm Water system that has no current funding source.
(Yes there’s a professional fundraiser who hopes to garner private donations for the baseball field, but our local economy is barely hanging on...it’s not the same as when he was soliciting donations for the Kroc Center and, even then, in the flush of good times, they couldn’t raise enough money. The Press article said they’d try to get MOST of the money from donations...those are dangerously untrustworthy words.)
This is all insultingly disrespectful to the public. Mayor Bloem and council members Kennedy, Goodlander and McEvers, voted recently to DENY a Public Advisory Vote on McEuen, even after the overwhelming November elections gave citizens two new voices on the council, but not a voting majority. The Mayor pledged to “compromise” on the plans, but there’s been no news of any compromise; no meetings; no alteration of the timeline. It’s full speed ahead: Cram it, ram it, slam it...but do it with a big smiling face on the front page. Maybe no one will notice that they’re being had.