School Board Tells Wildcats Field Can’t Be Used Until Work is Completed
At last weeks Bristol Borough School Board Meeting district officials told a borough based youth football program, football fields for now will be restricted for use and fees will be charged moving forward.
District officials explained work is being done to the field currently and until that is completed use of the field will be restricted.
Chapman and supporters of the Bristol Wildcats went before members of Bristol Borough Council days before. Council offered Chapman and the football families two options at the meeting. Come under the umbrella of Borough’s Recreation Authority, where permits, fees, and field use (on Bristol Borough property) would not be an issue. Or remain independent and have to apply for field use before school district officials.
Chapman choose to remain independent.
Prior to the board explaining its position on the matter Chapman, leader and coach of the youth organization read from prepared remarks.
He cited the “great relationship” the Wildcats have had with the school district over the past nine years. He said the non-profit has provided documents, upgrading the team’s insurance policy and pointed to the work parents of players and volunteer coaches do after using the district fields in the last nine years.
In an emotional plea he said “The Wildcats family stand before you tonight as for a resolution to this situation so our kids can play the sport our community has helped us build and provide to our boys and girls that we have done for the last nine years that’s it thank you.” as a round of applause thundered in support of his comments.
Officials said the field needs to be hydra-seeded, and will cost about $3000.00 for the work to be completed on the section of the field that is owned by the district.
A smaller section of the field is owned by Amtrak, which can be used, as long as the train company agrees, officials said. Chapman said he has approval from Amtrak to use that section.
Stakes were placed on the field Friday morning by district work crews outlining the area that can not be used presently.
School Board President Dave Chichilitti presented a “time-line” of events about the process of maintaining the field that began in early March.
We’ve seeded the field twice so far and it didn’t take, he said, and now the added work is being done and as result we need people to stay away from the field otherwise it’s going to cost the district even more than the approximate $3000.00 price tag its now costing.
The board explained, in addition, field occupancy fees will be levied for any future use of district fields due to custodial costs.
Chichilitti explained those costs are above and beyond what tax payers already pay in taxes assessed.
District Solicitor David Truelove the state laws involved while those details were shown on a screen for meeting attendees to see.
The exact fees for use of the field will be determined at a later date and is dependent on factors such as how many games weekly, district employee costs to name to.
Chichilitti said the district won’t charge one cent more than what the costs incurred by the Wildcats organization or any other organization who applies to use district owned properties.
Board member John D’Angelo along with fellow board members agreed they made a mistake for not maintaining the usual policy for use of the field, letting the Wildcats play there for free over the years.
“We’re trying to get everything right, no one is picking on your group and we’re trying to help you,” he said,
Chapman said Friday morning in a post the league secured a playing field for the spring flag football season, however that location was not divulged. Parents were none the less were thrilled to hear that news, after concerns were raised about where flag football would be played.
The board encouraged Chapman to get the organizations paperwork in for the Fall football season early so all the details could be worked as soon as possible so the organization can use the high school field.
There was a breakdown in communications that started the work on the field, officials said.
“We’ve been trying to show you we started the work on the field before we knew what Chris’ plans were, said Chichilitti .
“We’re not restricting you from using the field forever” he said.
Repeatedly Chichilitti asked Chapman, do we have an understanding that the field for now is off limits for use by any organization.
Chapman did not respond directly to the question, but said players will use the section of the field owned by Amtrak.
That section the district said is going to be worked on too.
Chapman insisted the Wildcats could use that section of the field which led to the School Board President saying, do what you feel you need to do. We’ve explained the position and once the work is completed you’re more than welcome to come back and use the field.
Of course supporters of the organization were frustrated by what they heard but some took a pragmatic approach to the situation.
” I see both sides of the issue” said one Bristol parent who has children involved with the Wildcats and Bristol Borough Recreation, I was kind of hoping there was going to be different kind of resolution but it seems communication and understanding of how the government operates seems something we all need to understand better”