North Lewisburg officials said netting on the outfield fences interfered with sight lines for cameras in the village park. Officials said Triad Junior Baseball and Softball Association installed the netting without permission from village council or Park Advisory Committee.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Mac Cordell)
What could have been a very contentious meeting ended amicably in North Lewisburg.
Council and administrators invited the Triad Junior Baseball and Softball Association (TJBSA) to Tuesday evening’s North Lewisburg Village Council meeting to discuss the association’s use of park facilities as well as a series of social media posts.
Mayor Cheryl Hollingsworth read a letter sent to TJBSA President Jon Roberts. In the letter, village attorney Dana Zook outlined concerns, specifically black netting installed on the ball field fences.
Zook cited the village lease with TJBSA which prohibits the association from making any additions to the park without approval of the village’s Park Advisory Committee and council.
The attorney wrote that security cameras were installed at the park and, “the netting on the fences creates large blind spots and dark areas which create security difficulties and make the park attractive for those engaged in nefarious activities, negating the steps that the village has taken to make the park safer and more secure.”
“This netting will need to be promptly removed,” Zook wrote.
Hollingsworth explained that much of the money for cameras was provided by a Drug Free Communities grant.
Earlier in the meeting, Mechanicsburg Police Captain Scott Bodey said there had been an issue at the park with drug abuse. He said he could not go into details because it is an ongoing case, but said last month “several juveniles” were seen on park cameras engaging in “drug activity at the park.”
Bodey said the children and their parents were contacted about the abuse. He said some of the juveniles admitted it. He said some of the parents had to be shown video before they believed their child was involved.
In speaking with TJBSA, Hollingsworth said this is the kind of activity cameras can help deter, but netting hinders that. Bodey said field netting, “didn’t help” with video of the incident.
Village Administrator Andy Yoder said the netting was installed without permission last year and Roberts was told then that it could not go up this season.
He called the netting this year, “just the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
He said the association has for years ignored the terms of the lease and has not communicated with the village.
He said the association makes changes and uses village resources without permission.
“What we want to do is get back in line with the lease and follow the rules,” Yoder said. “Unfortunately, we had to go the route of getting a letter from the attorney with some teeth to get us to this point.”
Eric Welty, TJBSA softball commissioner, said there were, “no arguments coming from Triad Junior Baseball and Softball after reviewing the lease.”
He said the netting was added as a way to make the game safer but acknowledged the association did not “go through the proper channels.”
Welty said he and village officials met Monday and came to an agreement that would allow the netting to stay and make the park, “a safer environment for the community to use year-round.”
“We at Triad Junior Baseball and Softball are proposing the addition of a camera or two,” Welty said.
He called the cameras, “an olive branch.”
Yoder said he would like to see the cameras installed, “as quick as possible.”
He said the netting causes “a tunnel” that isn’t covered by the cameras. He said it would be important the cameras are angled or moved so the tunnel is visible.
Nate Herron, TJBSA baseball commissioner, was at the meeting also. He explained that his job is camera installation and he will do the work as quickly as his schedule allows, suggesting later this week.
Yoder said it could take time to research the cameras, making sure they are compatible with the current system. He said a village approved contractor would need to review the installation.
TJBSA officials asked to keep the netting installed until Labor Day. Herron said the season ends in June, but a tournament for the day of village Independence Day festivities and a fall classic that will end in August are planned.
Welty said council and the association both want what’s best for the village. He said the association will work to better communicate with the village. He also said TJBSA will begin meeting with the Park Advisory Committee and will begin doing so early in the year so that by the time the ball seasons arrive, there is a plan for any potential issues.
Hollingsworth suggested a motion that would allow TJBSA to keep the netting until Labor Day provided the association purchase and install two cameras as soon as possible and at TJBSA expense. She also included, in the motion, a provision requiring a public apology for comments made on Facebook. Welty said the association plans to issue a statement acknowledging that it made mistakes in the process. Some members of the public said Roberts made the comments and he needs to apologize for them. Hollingsworth said Welty’s statement would be enough.
The motion passed unanimously.
...For the full story, select an option below.