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JML Prez Says City of Milford 'Could Care Less' About Safety of Kids Who Play Baseball

Junior Major League, the City of Milford and the Oyster Festival disagree about who would be responsible for the $2,000+ annual cost of maintaining a removal fence that the JML wants to install at Fowler Field.

 

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.

Larissa Watt January 11, 2013 at 04:18 PM
$2,000 is alot of money to remove a fence each year. Why can't the city just leave it in place for the other events? As far as these other comments..how rude! The fence is not only to "hit home runs"..it is a safety issue as well as a part of the sport...@ Pets, you say it' s a dying breed. You obviously haven't been out there during the spring season when there are non stop games..
Larissa Watt January 11, 2013 at 04:18 PM
Wow, that is rude to insult little kids Scott..
Bob January 11, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Its all about the Maroon jackets man...a fence, coupled with maroon jackets, makes JML much better than Little League. Plus, our snakc stand is way better than yours.
Pete January 11, 2013 at 04:32 PM
@Larissa, Who the hell is @Pets. The fence is nothing more than a nuisance. The only reason there are non stop games is there are non stop idiots wishing to live vicariously through their talentless brats. If you were really worried about safety, you would worry that Lifestar would no longer be able to land on the field. The fence creates far more danger than it prevents.
michael lapuglia January 11, 2013 at 05:08 PM
seen the left field fence and right field fence hit over 12 times two years ago when my son played there...i am for this project but mainly for safety.....what will it take a collision with two kids or a fly ball from one field to another to hit someone in the head to get results.....milford needs to take a step in the right direction....
jim tom bob January 11, 2013 at 05:43 PM
@ john good riddens
John Hanks January 11, 2013 at 05:46 PM
Educate yourself. Surely you mean good riddance.
M. Antonini January 11, 2013 at 06:14 PM
Nobody is currently "tripping over" the permanent fence that's there now. Why are people making problems where there are none?!?!?
D Fitzpatrick January 11, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Yeah that's a great idea, let's take sports away from kids, what so they can sit home and play more video games.
Raymond Dayton January 11, 2013 at 07:03 PM
It would seem unreasonable for either the Town or the Oyster Festival to be saddled with the cost of removing and replacing Mr. Spescha's personal fence. And as the issue of who should be labeled with a "care less" attitude about the safety of kids, the buck stops with he who attracts those kids to the location where their safety is an issue. And that, Mr. Spescha, is you.
Donna January 11, 2013 at 08:05 PM
Fiberglass removable fencing could be an alternative solution, post holder are counter sunk into the ground (no city liability there) post are inserted and fencing is clipped on. Fencing comes in 42" to 60" in height, light weight no problem to remove for events, a couple of coach's and team members one or two times a year and problem solved. Fencing is also flexible so players will not be running into metal page fencing.
Mike January 11, 2013 at 09:33 PM
Inferior? Oh yeah, "Little League" I'm sure is where it's at. It's great watching 12 year old kids (some 13 at seasons end) play on a 60 foot diamond. I'll take a 12 year old JML player any day over a "Little League" player. Ask all the "Little Leaguers" how they made out playing on a 90 foot diamond last fall. I'll tell you how they made out, they were no match against JML players.
Mike January 11, 2013 at 09:39 PM
How do you know it won't provide safety? Were you ever down there to see? Did you have any idea there was a fence there once before? Did you ever think about the kids running into one another? The other league has less than JML.
Mike January 11, 2013 at 09:54 PM
And not in Little League?
Mike January 11, 2013 at 09:55 PM
That's a great idea. Get rid of baseball in Milford. Then what will the kids do?
Annette January 12, 2013 at 01:06 AM
I believe JML is on the right track. There are far too many youth leagues which purport to be safety minded, yet are unwilling to follow through financially. I applaud their efforts. Also, you all need to be more careful with forming opinions regarding the type of fencing they are considering. I have looked at the website of the company who makes it, and it is really awesome!. There is nothing else like it on the marked from what I can tell.
Pete January 12, 2013 at 01:08 AM
FU Mike, How do you know it will? Do you have an engineering degree?
Pete January 12, 2013 at 01:09 AM
same is little league. Why are we suddenly comparing the two. It's the same crap
Pete January 12, 2013 at 01:11 AM
They can play a real sport like lacrosse where you run around and get exercise. Baseball is for pussies
Pete January 12, 2013 at 01:22 AM
In three years, nobody in this country will even be playing this boring sport. If you want a fence, go put it up in the DR where people still care about baseball.
Pete January 12, 2013 at 01:27 AM
@michael, exactly how will this fence prevent someone in one field from being hit in the head by a ball from another field ya dope? Sounds like you took a few too many fly balls off the head in your day.
Marie January 12, 2013 at 02:27 PM
Annette-Thank you for taking the time to look on the website and "educate" those who use their mouths, instead of their using the heads BEFORE they hit the reply button. There are those that LOVE....to comment without thinking FIRST!!! Everyone can have their opinion, but to call children names in a public forum is unacceptable! One certain person sounds like he has a personal issue Mr Speshca, and the game of baseball itself. Talentless brats, baseball is for p......, boring, none of which I consider my grandson who has played baseball for many years so I know Mr Speshca.I haven't always been a fan of his but he has been fair and ALWAYS put the kids safety FIRST! I also know that sometimes when we are so passionate about something we love as Mr Spescha does when it comes to baseball, we sometimes let our emotions over rule our intellect. Statements are taken out of context which I may happened in this case. If you play lacrosse OR any other sport have the consideration to remember that many volunteer their time. To be abused in a forum such as this is just not nice!
Adam Gerstein January 12, 2013 at 02:32 PM
@Ryan, I'm just saying - that was left out of the article, but it seemed like a big piece to leave out.
Maggie January 12, 2013 at 06:08 PM
I can't believe grown men are making such rude statements against any child or any sport - you must still be bitter over being picked last in gym. There is obviously still a huge interest in baseball if our town is able to support three different leagues.
C.S. January 12, 2013 at 08:41 PM
Milford JML is awesome, my daughter played in the JML for many years when she was younger. I don't see why this has to be so complicated, let the interested entity which wishes to have the fence removed pay the cost of the removal and replacement. It certainly is not fair to place that financial burden on the JML or the taxpayer. Also it seems very disportionate that a fence that costs $17,000 to install costs $2,000 - $3,000 to remove and replace? I would revisit that proposal.
C.S. January 12, 2013 at 08:44 PM
It would also seem unreasonable for the oyster festival to charge people $2.50 for a bottle of water on a hot summer day, but that never stopped them. Let them pay for taking the fence down and putting it back up, that or leave the fence up.
C.S. January 12, 2013 at 08:45 PM
Hey Pete, you are an asshole.
Pete January 14, 2013 at 04:35 PM
good one
Brian Rowland January 14, 2013 at 09:21 PM
Being allotted 5 or 10 minutes in a public meeting, or a few paragraph news article, is not going to bring any clarity to the issue at hand. So I am not surprised by all the confusion, misconception, conjecture, etc.. found in all these comments. Which perfectly supports the statement which George Spescha made that it appears the City could care less about the kids safety who are playing ball down there. There is a safety issue down there on those fields which he is trying to address and has offered a couple of solutions. It has met tremendous resistance for N number of reasons. I commend him for trying to do the right thing. At this point, I fear he has done all he can in his power. What I will say is that god forbid something does happen... I hope those who have vehemently opposed his ideas, can sleep at night knowing they had an opportunity to be part of the solution, but rather chose to be part of the problem which ultimately resulted in a child being injured.
Marie January 17, 2013 at 12:49 AM
My comment had a error, I left out a word. It should of read one certain person sounds like he has a personal issue WITH Mr Spescha and the game of baseball itself. Sorry for the misprint.

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