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Rec commission, Towamensing supervisors differ on lighting a ball field

Published April 23. 2013 05:01PM

Following a moment of silence for the people of Boston, Towamensing went on to discuss lighting of the Babe Ruth ball field. The meeting drew a large number of recreation people and Supervisor Tom Newman.

Someone asked why the other supervisors were not present, but that would have required an advertised meeting because there would have been a majority of supervisors.

Soccer and baseball each get $1,200 per year in addition to the township paying maintenance and lighting.

Electricity costs $6,000 and maintenance is $4,000. The new field under construction is expected to add $2,000 to maintenance costs, said Newman.

Cole George, who played for Palmerton, said it was a big deal to play under lights. To get the games in without lights games would have to start at 5 p.m. The only thing the township would pay for the additional lighting would be electricity.

Newman was asked where the money came from initially to construct the fields. He said developers made donations to a recreation fund, and added that the township was building a girls-universal field where softball would have priority.

Resident Ross Haydt said building has slowed down and asked if there was any other way to increase the fund.

Newman said more money would have to come from taxpayers and "We are living in hard times. We are the stewards of township money. No one can afford more."

He said in the beginning everyone knew where the garbage dump was. Now they don't and supervisors don't want to break the cap.

Bruce Taschler said he didn't think the new field will be big enough to use as a universal field. He said they could bring specifications to the next supervisors' meeting.

Newman said they wanted more parking but the land they want to use is in farmland preservation and supervisors do not know if the regulations would permit parking on it.

Sandy Nicolo asked if it would be okay if the owner, Rodney George, gave his permission.

"We have a lease but it has not yet been signed," said Mike Netznik.

Newman said the supervisors, township engineer and roadmaster went to check. They opened some areas and recapped it. He said bluntly that there will be no lights on the Babe Ruth field, except portable ones and if recreation pays the electricity.

Nicolo said they dug five holes and found the garbage ends at the pitcher's mound. He said it is common to build on landfills with lights and buildings.

Newman repeated, "There will be no more holes punched in that cap."

Taschler said, "It's the bigger kids we;re talking about."

Haydt said there is one Babe Ruth field with no place to practice. He understands they do not want to break the cap.

He said portables are too expensive.

Newman said supervisors are responsible for everyone.

Nicolo asked that if official plans were submitted, would it be denied on zoning?

Netznik said he talked to someone from PPL and found that down south they dig light post holes only four-feet deep and then use something called bog shoes to stabilize them.

Taschler said "The conduit trench will be only four inches wide by 18-inches deep."

Nicolo asked if the township, which owns the fields, would consider donating them to the rec commission.

Ben Haydt said, "We have to go to Franklin Township to play. We need two Babe Ruth fields."

The path up to the fields is wet and slippery. The roadmaster will be sent out to see what can be done about that. Netznik said they have two quarries that will provide stone.

Kelly George, a dean of students at Pleasant Valley, said she has to discipline students and one of the things she asks them is what their after-school activities are. She said grandparents are as apt as parents to come out and watch games. Her concern is that the township does not have a park like the one in Chestnuthill Township. Tons of kids want to play but it is limited by the number of fields. With lights, a second team could play each day.

Chris Allen said he is involved in soccer and they pay to lease the fields, place porta-potties and referees. Some weeks they are not allowed to use the Beltzville fields.

Newman said he would like to see soccer and baseball help each other. He said he has to meet what he sees as his responsibility and that is to the taxpayers.

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