Christian softball, youth baseball leagues seek same night
By Bert Lehman
After much discussion, the Clintonville City Council worked out a compromise between an area Christian softball league and Clintonville Youth Baseball for the use of the ball diamonds at Bucholtz Park.
During the public comments portion of the meeting, Rev. Todd Jerabek said the Christian softball league has been using the ball diamonds at Bucholtz Park in Clintonville on Tuesday nights during the summer since 1992.
Jerabek said the softball league was created by Clintonville churches in 1992, and has expanded since then. It now also includes two teams from Shawano.
“I do not, in any way shape or form, disrespect youth baseball,” Jerabek said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for our kids to work together to learn teamwork and other things that go along with it. However, as the parks are for everyone in the community, I’d like to see them to continue to be used in such a way.”
Jerabek asked why the softball league, which has been meeting on Tuesday nights since 1992, was being asked to move to Friday nights instead of youth baseball using the open Friday night slot?
He encouraged the council to leave the Christian softball league on Tuesday nights.
Joe Lamia, president of Clintonville Youth Baseball, also addressed the council.
He said the league is in charge of 300 kids.
Why Friday nights wouldn’t work for youth baseball was also explained. Lamia said it is difficult to find umpires for Friday night games. Some kids in youth baseball are also part of tournament teams, which play games on Friday nights.
“What we’ve ran into in the past is when we try to schedule league games on Friday nights, there is inevitably kids missing,” Lamia said.
He said being able to have games on Tuesday nights would make it easier for youth baseball to create its schedule. He said youth baseball would like to use the ball diamonds at Bucholtz Park Monday through Thursday, and also on Sunday nights.
Pastor Richard Vanman told the council the Christian softball league is a great opportunity for area churches to interact.
“The problem is, if you kick us out on Tuesday, then we really don’t have any other good place or opportunity to play,” Vanman said.
He said the softball league needs two ball diamonds on Tuesday nights.
The commissioner of the Christian softball league, Sondra Guetschow, also addressed the council. In addition to what Jerabek and Vanman told the council, Guetschow said participants in the Christian softball league visit local restaurants after their games on Tuesday nights.
“If you guys choose for the Christian softball league to no longer play in Clintonville, you guys are actually taking money away from the city as well,” she said.
The council discussed the issue later during its meeting. Prior to discussion, the council voted to suspend the meeting rules in order to allow representatives from both leagues to answer questions while the council discussed the matter.
According to information compiled by Justin McAuly, Parks and Recreation director, the Christian softball league paid $12 per game played in 2015. The league played 30 games, for a total fee of $360.
The Clintonville Youth Baseball League pays user fees, a concession stand lease and tournament diamond rentals. The league paid a fee of $3,960 in 2015. That amount was not broken down further. There was no mention as to how many games the league plays each year on the ball diamonds.
During the discussion, Lamia said youth baseball plays 15-20 games per week.
Alderwoman Jeannie Schley said the Christian softball league should not have to switch nights if it doesn’t want to.
Alderman Brad Rokus said he agreed with Schley. Rokus stated it was difficult to compare fees paid by both leagues since the softball league fee was for just one night each week throughout the summer, while the youth baseball fee was its fee for the entire year. He also asked if the city would be receiving more money from youth baseball if it got Tuesday nights like it requested.
“I can’t see saying to the Christian softball league, ‘Thank you for the past 24 years, we’re sorry it doesn’t work for you in the future. Good bye,’” Rokus said.
Alderwoman Gloria Dunlavy asked if the youth baseball league helped pay for maintenance of the ball diamonds.
Lamia said last year youth baseball helped pay for dirt replacement on the ball diamonds, as well as some other items.
Alderwoman Julie Stumbris asked if one of the groups could use the ball diamond at the high school.
Lamia said youth baseball would not want to use the ball diamond by the high school because its concession stand is not there. Youth baseball would lose revenue because of that.
Later in the discussion Guetschow indicated that if the softball league was forced to Friday nights, the league would probably dissolve.
Lamia said it was a concern of youth baseball that all organizations aren’t charged the same for use of the ball diamonds. He said youth baseball was also willing to concede one ball diamond to the softball league each Tuesday, if youth baseball could use the other two.
“If we’re going to be fair, fantastic, we’ll make some concessions,” Lamia said.
Stumbris asked both representatives if it was possible for each group to have two ball diamonds every other week.
“It’s better than all or nothing,” Stumbris said.
Guetschow said the Christian softball league could work under those parameters.
Lamia said it will still be tough creating the schedule, but youth baseball would agree to whatever the council agreed to if fees are the same for all groups.
The council unanimously passed a motion that the Christian softball league remain on Tuesday nights, but it alternate weeks with Clintonville Youth Baseball to have two ball diamonds one week and one ball diamond the next week. Alderman Steve Kettenhoven was absent from the meeting.
After the vote, Rokus asked that the Parks and Recreation Committee review the fee structure for the ball diamonds so it is equitable for all groups.