Prepared Comments Made to
NORTH CANTON CITY COUNCIL
February 11, 2013
Last week many people spoke pro and con before this body regarding the addition of lighting at the North Canton Little League Ball Fields. Obvious for most who heard the remarks, the concern is the intrusion that the lights bring to the surrounding neighborhoods along with traffic and parking issues and the noise from crowds and loud speakers that are already disruptive in daylight hours, a disruption that may now extend into the evening and nighttime hours.
Beyond the obvious intrusions, I think everyone is forgetting the larger picture and that is the fact that the North Canton Little League Ball Field is the site of a City well field.
The designation of the area as a public park is supposed to prevent development and protect the aquifer below. That is not being considered now, nor has it been considered in the past as many structures have been built on the property by the North Canton Little League during the term of the present lease.
Protection of the City’s well field should be paramount and development limited as the addition of infrastructures on the property further complicates security of the well field and the underlying aquifer.
In addition, the property was gifted to North Canton by the Hoover Company to be used as a “Public Park.” Park land brings with it the presumption that it will be maintained as Greenspace to be enjoyed by all of its citizens, not developed with buildings and parking lots with large numbers of people converging and trampling nature with lights ablaze into the nighttime.
I also have concerns that nineteen acres of public park land have been handed over to a select few for their exclusive use and I am talking about the lease of the property to the group known as the North Canton Little League, most of whom are nonresidents of North Canton.
The Hoover Company gave the citizens of North Canton this acreage and the terms of the gift state that the property be used exclusively for a “Public Park.”
There is nothing in the terms of the Hoover gift that says the property can be handed over to a select few to use as they see fit, no matter what their intentions are.
North Canton residents are being denied the peaceful use of a public park and are losing the Greenspace that the park was intended to provide.
The exclusion of a great majority of North Canton residents from the entirety of the nineteen acres of property gifted to the city bothers me greatly. My distress over the lease arrangement with the North Canton Little League Board of Directors is heightened by the fact that I have learned that North Canton children are being barred from participating in or using the ball fields for lack of financial resources.
I have received word from a parent of four children that her kids were not allowed to play at the Little League Ball Fields as they were unable to pay the registration fees demanded by the Little League Board. The parent asked to make payments and was turned down by the President of the Board of Directors.
How many other children have been denied playing time at the ball field for financial reasons? And to add insult to the hurt for this parent, the parent says at the same time other children were offered scholarships so they could play without payment of registration fees.
This particular mother is a taxpayer in the city, owns her own home, and her four children attend North Canton City Schools. This individual tells me that she is familiar with numerous parents who can’t afford to play any longer at the North Canton Little League Fields and have chosen other sports options outside the City of North Canton for their children.
This is supposed to be a “Public Park” but that is not the way it is being run.
I drive past the North Canton Little League Ball Field without any thought as to what is happening there. The sign at the entrance is titled “Hoover Community Recreation Complex.”
I have learned that the only recreation going on there is recreation approved by the North Canton Little League Board of Directors, to the exclusion of most North Canton residents including North Canton children whose parents cannot afford the required registration fee to play.
The request to add lights to the North Canton Little League Ball Fields should be denied for many reasons. I have given you many of those reasons. The opponents who spoke before this body last Monday night gave you many more.
I ask that you call three strikes on this issue and end the game on the lighting request.