Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Opinion: Residents Denied Access and Expected to Pay TWICE!

Submitted by Karen Radz. The Eye welcomes all signed opinion pieces, submit to middletowneye@gmail.com
In 2015, Middletown voters passed a $33.45 million referendum to improve city fields. Nevertheless, residents are still being denied scheduled time to use them. Recent proposed changes to ordinance 214-37 - use of Pat Kidney and other city fields, will continue to favor the practice of allowing teams comprised of non-residents sole use. At the next Common Council meeting there will be discussion and a vote to possibly ratify these changes, which many residents are against.

The community is invited to attend the meeting on Monday, March 4, at 7pm in the Council Chamber to show support for fellow residents in this matter. Assistance from Mayor Drew, Public Works & Facilities Commission members, and General Counsel Commission members has been respectfully sought on this issue, to no avail.

The main concern for residents is that the proposed ordinance revisions will give priorities to users from outside of our city first (reverse from existing ordinance):
  • Non-resident teams (teams that draw from multiple towns - potentially 100% non-residents -  listed are Xavier, Mercy, Legion) will be given first priority status with all fees waived.
  • 100% resident teams will be given second priority status and will be charged fees.
The proposed ordinance clearly shows bias against Middletown parents who choose not to have their children play on certain teams. Some families may not be able to afford the $600-$800 fees those teams charge, and some may have other reasons for not choosing those teams. Shouldn’t families have choice? City Government should not discriminate against citizens based on what team they play for. One would hope that Mayor Drew and Council members choose to enforce the notion of fair and equitable use of city fields for the residents whose tax dollars pay for such facilities.

From a quick online search of field-use policies and ordinances in surrounding towns, one would discover that each, including those with Legion programs and private schools in town, now require around 67% residency to be a first priority user. Surrounding towns stipulate that teams that are comprised of 67% or more residents are scheduled first - fairly and equitably.

Recently, a Common Council member suggested that Middletown has a good cooperative relationship with Mercy, Xavier & Legion (majority non-resident teams), and that's why they're given first priority status. This may be so, but residents are not able to use their fields either … not sure who the relationship benefits. The fact remains that the individual taxpaying residents of this city voted for the renovation of fields and continue to pay for the bond that funded them, and the ongoing costs to maintain them, yet are unable to use them unless they play for a specific team. One would argue that residents should have equal access. No one is suggesting to remove teams from use - only that residents receive first priority status, just as surrounding towns provide.

 Residents urge Council members to vote to allow equal scheduled access to city fields. Again, the proposed revisions will waive fees for non-resident teams while requiring teams of mostly residents, or teams with 100% residents, pay. Middletown residents will pay twice!

 It is up to the Middletown Common Council to make a decision that is in the best interests of residents. There will be an opportunity for the public to weigh in on this issue at the Monday, March 4, Common Council Meeting in City Hall at 7pm. 


Anonymous said...

Lots wrong with this policy. Just to point out a couple things. The first line of this piece says "In 2015, Middletown voters passed a $33.45 million referendum to improve city fields." Anyone wonder why there was a referendum in an off election year? Most likely to get only people supporting a referendum out to vote and pass. It was supposed to be used to improve city fields yet apparently it can also be used to build walking and biking trails. Who is watching over the #33 million slush fund? Did it also pay for those big signs with peoples names?

Anonymous said...

You should check out the soccer fields too. Pay to play soccer is drawing kids from all over and local kids don't always get a spot on the team or can afford the $2000 cost.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Middletown residents who don't play on those teams would have to pay THREE times. First, we are paying through taxes. Second, we would have to pay to use the field. Third, we would have to pay for City employee overtime when non-residents use the field on nights and weekends. Why do they want to make changes that aren't good for people who live in town?

Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous. I thought I voted for PUBLIC parks. What about people who want to play a pick-up game? Is this only for organized sports?