Field Debate Ratchet’s Up As Allegations are Hurled
It’s a controversy that really isn’t a controversy, according to borough officials.
The issue at hand?
One side says there is an ongoing effort to shut down a local football league that also offers flag football to Bristol area residents.
The other side says the shutdown allegations are nonsense and worse.
The Bristol Wildcats Football League, which every one agrees, has been using the fields owned by the Bristol Borough School District for free over at least the last six years.
As Chapman explained last month, he made a deal with the school district years ago.
Chapman said he came to an agreement with John “Chic” D’Angelo, who was in a leadership position on the board at the time.
Chapman has since used the regular football field and the back field for his spring/summer flag football league in which approximately 160 area kids participate.
Chapman, since the March Bristol Borough Council meeting where council was scheduled to appoint new members to the recreation board, has repeatedly implied there is a conspiracy against him personally and his league.
Lower Bucks Source interviewed Chapman days after the council meeting to get his thoughts on what he heard. Chapman said people are jealous of his success with the league and have been looking to shut it and him down.
The fact that “I ran against Lorraine (Cullen) is what really pissed them off,” he said.
Just before the primary election, you started to hear about this recreation program the borough was going to be relaunching.
“That’s Ralphie’s (Bristol Borough Council President Ralph DiGuiseppe ) way of sticking it to me and the kids.
Chapman once challenged DiGuiseppe in the southward and lost that bid also.
“Now you have the borough and school district working together on this recreation thing looking to shut us down” he said.
Borough officials disagree with Chapman’s analysis.
We have nothing to do with those fields. They are owned by the school district so this isn’t a council related issue, DiGuiseppe said.
What council has said is with the sale of the Grundy Arena in August 2020, about $250 K from the sale proceeds would be used to upgrade, relaunch and invest for recreation programming.
As part of that effort the Council hired Mike Poploskie to be the Boro’s Athletic Director last July.
Poploskie has studied athletic administration and is the athletic director at Mastery Charter Schools in Philadelphia.
School Board President David Chichilitti said the issue isn’t what Chapman is making out to be.
First off, no one is telling him or demanding he shudder his football leagues spring or summer. What we have said, and will continue to say from here on out is to use the fields its going to cost, just like it costs taxpayers to pay the maintenance crews who care for the fields.
The board asked Chris last week not to use the backfield for games or practice of any kind because it’s really a mud hole right now. It requires reseeding. All three fields were worked in recent weeks, back field included, he said.
“Go see for yourself, it is far from done. In fact in the coming days, that field will be reworked” said Chichilitti.
“If Chris continues to use the field the costs involved for its care will increase. Those are taxpayer funds we’re using to perform the upkeep on the field. He can’t expect to disregard our request and expect not to pay,” Chichilitti said.
Chapman has said he’s open to paying depending on the costs.
The school district said all they are hoping to recoup are costs for district employees to be on site for games along with the costs to maintain the fields used.
Those costs could range in the hundreds, district officials said, but no official determination has been made.
On Saturday, the Bristol Wildcats did in fact use the field.
There were no “keep off grass” signs posted, but those will be posted in the coming days, officials did say.
Chapman, in posts dating back to early March on his personal and league pages, has said a number of things in his own unvarnished way.
“For almost 10 years a very small group of people have worked tirelessly to bring youth sports to all kids in the area. Now this group is becoming a target. There’s a very small handful of people who are working tirelessly against our athletic organization. In the coming days, you will see a story in the newspaper and that story will go to all the local news affiliates. We will also release the names of the people working against our Athletic Association. These are the same people who will knock on your door and ask you for your vote and then try to justify their actions,” Chapman posted.
The post was published the morning after speaking on the phone with Lower Bucks Source.
On March 29, Chapman in a post reiterated his previous comments alleging “a (sic) group of seven who will all be named are working tirelessly to shut down our athletic organization.”
Chapman, during the March 14 interview, said efforts were made by individuals to also shut down the basketball program he was running out of Calvary Baptist Church on Green Lane over the winter.
“People actually called to complain” he said, but did offer any names of those who made complaints.
Lastly a petition posted by Brittney Dugan garnered over 850 signatures in support of the Bristol Wildcats Athletic Association.
“We need to keep this youth program up and running for the youth. Gives them something to do all year round between tackle football, flag football and basketball. Please join us in the fight to keep it going”, the petition states.
But herein lies the issue. No one, anywhere, has said on the record or otherwise they are trying to shutdown BWAA.
In fact, Chichilitti said, “why in the world would we shut down the only football based program based in Bristol Borough?”
“That’s just absurd” he said.
What’s also absurd, he said, are Borough taxpayers footing the bill for a football league that has players in it from outside the borough.
Poploskie also serves as the vice president of the school board, said he hopes the issues can be worked out
“There is zero reason why everyone can’t work together. I know I can support that movement” he said.
Editors Note -1 Chapman last Thursday declined to respond to a request for comment
Editors Note-2 School Board Officials declined to comment further on the issue Sunday, inviting the publication to attend Thursday nights School Board Meeting.
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