N.L. Council, ball association work through differences

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The Village of North Lewisburg and the Triad Junior Baseball and Softball Association (TJBSA) have pledged a new era of communication and, based on comments at Tuesday’s council meeting, anything would be an improvement.
“I’ve been on council 13 years and this is probably the third time anyone has come here,” council member Ted Murphy told three board members of the organization.
Upkeep on the diamonds, timely lease agreements and insurance policies are just some of the issues that crop up between the ball group and the village. While the village owns and is responsible for the park, the organization leases the fields during warm-weather months for youth baseball and softball leagues.
TJBSA board member Liz Funderburgh asked the officials what type of long-term goals they had for the park. Repairing the damaged relationship between the organization and village was mentioned repeatedly.
Mayor Cheryl Hollingsworth said with the village owning the park but TJBSA responsible for a great deal of programming, the two sides must work together better in the future.
“Because I don’t want hurt feelings on either side,” Hollingsworth said.
Council member Robin Street agreed, saying it was crucial for the organization to bring its concerns to council.
Murphy said there is already a park advisory board in place that can operate as a liaison between council and TJBSA. Murphy said the board meets when issues warrant or there is a request, but he did not believe it had convened in quite some time.
Hollingsworth said members of the park advisory board are appointed by the mayor, noting that the village and TJBSA are both represented on the board. She said the members of the board have been in place for many years.
Council member John Collier said it might be prudent to install some new board members who might be more in tune with the current needs of the park.
Funderburgh said new members of the TJBSA board can’t correct the issues of the past, but the two sides need to work collectively to agree on improvements needed at the park and to seek grants.
“It’s kind of the showcase of the town,” TJBSA board member Jennifer Thomas said.
In that new spirit of cooperation, council and the TJBSA representatives worked through a couple of issue.
Funderburgh asked the village to work with the organization on dividing the park electric bills in a more fair manner. TJBSA currently pays for electrical use at four metered locations within the park, supplying power to field lights as well as the shelter house and concession stand.
Funderburgh said there are some items within the park, such as security lights and cameras, that operate year-round, and use electricity even in the cold-weather months when the ball fields are not being used.
Funderburgh said all of the organization’s equipment has been unplugged and she suggested using the next two months to establish a baseline for how much electricity the village’s security devices are using. She proposed that the village could then pay that baseline usage amount each month.
Hollingsworth agreed and said the village could also probably take on the fees associated with one of the additional billed locations within the park. Council voted 6-0 to fund the month electric usage, once the baseline is established.
Funderburgh also asked if the organization could receive the lease for the park sooner than normal. The organization reportedly receives the agreement in January and Funderburgh said TJBSA is already holding signups by that time.
She said having the agreement signed and returned earlier would help the organization secure sponsorships that it needs to maintain its operations. Council noted the lease could be prepared sooner, but most years it is not returned until months later anyway. The TJBSA representatives said they would stay on top of the matter to ensure that did not happen this year.



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