Council Offers Solution, League Chooses to Remain Independent, Supporters Plan to Be at Board Meeting
At a packed Bristol Borough Council meeting borough officials and supporters of a local youth football league tried to make head way about the use of a football field owned by the school district and guidelines for future uses.
Dozens of supporters for the Bristol Borough Wildcats youth football league showed up last night, along with president of league to voice their concerns with regards to use of a football field under the authority of the School Board.
Heated exchanges between Chapman and Council officials did not resolve the issue at hand.
Chapman repeated allegation that the council is plotting to shut his organisation down. Council officials vehemently denied the accusations.
Council members did not receive the allegations well but attempted to offer a possible solution for the issue at hand; use of Bristol Borough owned fields.
“Mr Chris Chapman who runs the Wildcats Football has made accusations about the school board, council and the mayor and what our plans are for his program. I’d like to take a couple of minutes to set the record straight, west ward Councilman Gregg Pezza
Pezza continued “first Mr Chapman has built an impressive football program. I and no other member of council have said anything differently about the quality of the football experience for the kids. What we have expressed, and are still concerned about are still some safety concerns a few months back over the activity of the Wildcats program and the football field as it pertains to parking, the bike path being blocked, and the overall condition of the field. We (east ward Councilwoman Lorraine Cullen) have been contacted by many residents who had concerns about that. Our job as a borough council and school board is to insure we have taken all the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of our children, and parents and to protect the borough taxpayers from any liability. Mr Chapman has decided to interpret this as being an attack against him as an individual. We did hope to have a private meeting with him, but this is the forum Mr Chapman has chosen here are the facts and what we plan to do and why.”
In order to mitigate the issues of field and facility use the plan is to bring all recreation programs possible under one umbrella including the Wildcats under the banner of the borough and or school board. All borough programs will have specific standards in place as follows.
- Programs requiring payment will be required to submit accounting information to the borough.
- Coaches must be cleared with criminal background checks and child abuse clearances by the state.
- Kids participating should be Bristol residents — the borough is open to some consideration of children living in nearby areas that don’t have similar recreational programming.
The advantages for Chapman’s team (s) is they would not be required to pay for use of borough fields and facilities, Pezza said.
In the event he does not want the support of this Council we are not telling Mr Chapman he can’t use any of our fields and the School Board is not either. He will then be subject to formal requests made to the Borough Athletic Director Mike Poploskie, and the Bristol’s governing bodies which every other municipality in this area requires, which also including fee said Pezza.
Chapman rejected the offer seeking to maintain the league’s independence.
Council President Ralph DiGuiseppe reiterated compliments about the work the league has done with area kids from but remained miffed about Chapman’s accusations of the borough seeking to close the doors on his program.
“It’s simply not true” he said.
Chapman said school district employees sent him e-mail saying he could not use either field for up to a year due to the ongoing grounds work that is ongoing. In his assessment the field is in better condition than in the last nine years we’ve used it.
A number of Wildcat football supporters stood steadfast in their belief Council has the authority to let them play on the field and expressed their frustration with that as DiGuiseppe reiterated “I can’t authorize use of the fields since the school district owns” them.
Bristol resident Brittney Dugan made an impassioned plea for something to be done and worked out. She started the petition covered in Sunday night’s story.
All those kids on that filed are my kids. I watch these kids stay out of trouble on that field… we need people to keep these kids on that field to allow them to play these games. Cause if we don’t what do you think there going to do in their free time?”
Dugan after the meeting said she plans to be in attendance at Thursday nights school board meeting to “ask more questions and get more answers because those kids need to be on that field.
In the end, some questions were answered, the Council outlined its expectations for rec programs that plan on operating by Bristol and those that are independent
School District officials said Tuesday they will comment on record at Thursday nights meeting.