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Users of city's baseball fields cry foul

MAA's new VP says it will solve problem

Published: Friday, Dec. 28, 2012 8:00 a.m. CST

Users of the city's baseball fields run by the Morris Athletic Association came before the Morris Parks and Annexation Committee to complain about unfair treatment and scheduling problems.

Members of the MAA board, including at least one new member who recently became a board leader, reassured them things will change.

"I want to hear what your complaints are so I can solve the problem," said Scott Stewart, new vice president of the MAA board.

The city fields are owned by the city, but the MAA handles the scheduling. The city maintains the fields, but the MAA prepares the fields for games. The MAA is paid by the leagues and teams to utilize the field for games. The city also supports the MAA with an annual donation, which usually ranges at about $5,000 a year.

"We've had situations where we schedule a practice and the teams show up and are asked to leave," said Dave Wiers of Wiers Baseball Academy Travel Teams in Morris.

Wiers said this is a problem for the parents of players, some who are traveling 30 minutes or more for practice, who have driven their children to the fields just to have to turn around and leave.

Kindra Messel said a MAA member has gone as far as to curse at her in front of her children to get off a field.

Dave Sweeney of the Christian Fellowship Softball League has been using the field at Shabbona School for more than 10 years, and in recent years, has also had trouble with scheduling. He would call ahead to schedule a game and then look at the MAA website and find someone else had been scheduled in their time slot.

"Every year it gets worse and worse when trying to schedule," he said.

Alderman Julian Houston said it was disturbing that Morris people were unable to utilize fields they pay taxes to have.

"Someone else was changing the rules. We need a set of rules that everyone complies by," Mayor Richard Kopczick said.

Stewart reassured the mayor and the audience members complaining that they have heard the concerns and are "taking care of it." Rules have been set and the board is dealing with the member who has been kicking people off the field and acting rudely.

"We have more (of a problem) than I originally thought we had," he said.

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