At Monday night's Board of Aldermen meeting, Aldermen members were scheduled to vote on whether or not to approve the Junior Major League’s proposal to install a removable fence at the Benard/Francis Field at Fowler Field.
It's a seemingly simple issue that has become very complicated. One person who doesn't find the issue complicated at all is Junior Major League President George Spescha, who said bluntly, ""My feelings on it is the City of Milford could care less about the safety of the kids who play baseball."
What Kind of Fence?
Spescha's original proposal was for a permanent fence, which the Junior Major League would pay for completely. JML leases the space at Fowler Field from March - November, while the City uses the space for the rest of the year.
It was decided that a removal fence would be needed, so that it could be removed during the Oyster Festival in August and for other events throughout the year.
The removal fence would cost $17,000, a fee that the Junior Major League would cover, but Spescha objects to JML paying the $2,000-$3,000 cost to remove the fence each year for the Oyster Festival, as well as for any other events throughout the year.
At the Aldermen meeting, City Attorney Jonathan Berchem said, "When this matter was presented to our office, the questions I had was to whether this fence was really, in fact, removal. [It costs] $2,000 for removal. Who would be responsible for the cost to remove the fence? The city should not bear the cost. It's not our fence."
Berchem said that if the fence remained up during the Oyster Festival, it could "create a tripping hazard and cause exposure for the City."
Spescha, who was not present for the Board of Aldermen meeting Monday night, said in an interview Thursday night that he disagrees with Berchem's assessment, calling the idea that the fence would be a hazard during the Oyster Festival "ludicrous."
Attempts were made to contact Oyster Festival for this article.
Tabling the Issue
The plan for the removable fence was approved by the Parks Department, but denied by the Planning & Zoning Board.
Aldermen Member Paul Smith said, "Planning & Zoning denied it because they had questions that needed to be answered. If we could just table this until Planning & Zoning gets the answers."
Mayor Blake explained why the Aldermen was addressing a proposal that had been denied by Planning & Zoning: "Once Planning & Zoning takes something up, it is required to come to this board for review."
Aldermen Member Philip J. Vetro asked, "Why would Junior Majors take on the expense of removing the fence when they want the permanent fence to begin with?"
"The City doesn't incur any expenses from our league," Spescha said. "The kids would like to have an outfield fence to try and hit a home run over."
"I hate to say I've given up, but I don't foresee a happy ending to it," Spescha added. "I've got a lot of other things to do than argue with people who don't really seem to care."
The Board of Aldermen will address the matter of whether or not to allow the removal fence to be built when they reconvene again on Monday, February 4th, 2013.