Forum held over fate of Marengo Ballfields
By Randa Wagner
Almost 100 residents assembled October 23 at Marengo United Methodist Church to participate in a forum that invited them to offer on input on the future of the ballfields in Marengo.
The Marengo Youth Baseball and Softball Association has been seeking reassurance from the Highland School Board the youth baseball teams will be able to use the fields behind the former Highland West Elementary School for at least the next 3 — 5 years. The board issued a statement on the matter, saying, It is the intent of the HLSD BOE to turn the management of resources over to a collective group of citizens for the benefit of all students. It is not our intent to take away, but instead add to the options for our students and communities.
The school board feels by merging the three groups, a new board would be formed to schedule and manage the Chesterville, Sparta, and Marengo playing fields for Highland kids.
Our only desire is to help facilitate the use of the green space and allow the playing fields to be maintained by the members of the newly formed ‘organization, the statement continues.
In a statement issued by the Marengo Youth Softball and Baseball Association, the MYBSA says they have approached the current school board several times to ensure that MYBSA could continue operating on the current fields in Marengo. The outcome has always been that as long as we continue to do what we are doing and the school owns the fields.
The statement goes on to say the board shared their vision of merging the Highland Park board, MYBSA board and HYO board into one authority.
This authority would own, operate and maintain the Highland community park as well as the satellite locations in Marengo and Chesterville. There would be public elections to elect the officers that would make up the board. This new board would operate the new organization. The vision would be for all to come together and all highland kids play for this organization.
MYSBA is concerned if the Marengo ballfields are sold at a future date. They would have thirty days to vacate and they say the boards’ thoughts are the park would house the kids until another resolution could be made for more playing fields. The fear is that the park needs to fill their fields for the upcoming season and, if they do and the green spaces are sold, then where will the kids play? If HYO and Marengo choose not to do this, then the park will be filled with travel ball and adult softball teams and who knows when we would get it back.
During the two-hour forum, a number of citizens and board members spoke, seeking clarification of what the merger would mean. Some felt the MYSBA was being forced to merge or possibly lose their playing fields, should the land change hands in the future. Jack Fishburn gave an emotional testimony to the value of the ballfields and promised Marengo they would have their ballfields, even the current land were sold.
Altizer encourage all concerned to attend the next Highland School Board meeting Tuesday, November 13 at 7 p.m. at the high school.