Midland Park October 28, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • Page 11 Local officials seek solution to field use issues The Midland Park Mayor and Council are hopeful that a meeting of town, school, baseball and softball representatives will result in a solution to a baseball/softball field use conundrum, at least temporarily. At present, each of the groups seems to have a different opinion on what is the best course of action to pursue. In a town with a limited number of sports fields, the recent problem arose from a change in state rules requiring that the pitcher’s mound for high school girls varsity softball be located 43 feet back from home plate instead of 40 feet away. Since the girls program uses Little League baseball’s junior field adjacent to the snack bar, baseball would have to remove the dirt pitcher’s mound to accommodate the new girls’ softball pitching distance. According to baseball officials, removing the mound would ruin the field for baseball and may make continuing the 25-year sharing arrangement impossible. Residents present during last week’s borough council meeting expressed strong opinions on the situation and suggested a variety of options. Dana Weisbrot of Chamberlain Place, representing the baseball association, said that the organization has invested heavily in the field over the years, including $70,000 recently for lights, and that it wants to maintain full use of its field for its program. In order to accommodate the 43 ft. distance for the softball mound and a 50ft. distance for baseball, the 46-foot mound used by younger or less powerful players would have to be eliminated, he said. Weisbrot said the junior field is the only field in town used by 11-12 year olds and by the 912 year olds traveling team. Chris Lightenberg of Hill Street, the travel division manager, explained that the 46-foot mound is essential for pitcher development. “The mound is closer for some kid who may never pitch again after he leaves the program. It’s the dream field; his day under the lights. I can’t be part of destroying some young man’s dream to pitch on that mound,” said Lightenberg. Dave Lancaster, who provides the field maintenance, recommended that stanchions be mounted slightly below grade at each of the desired distances outfitted with removable pitching rubbers. When the rubber is removed and capped, nothing would show to interfere with another game, he said. Lancaster added that this solution would be better than the board of education’s proposal to use square pitching rubbers placed on the field and removable after each game. Members of the audience said that scheduling coordination could preserve the sharing arrangement. “It’s a scheduling issue. If we all get together, we can work it out,” said Weisbrot. “We are willing to cooperate; it’s not a confrontational thing,” he added. “If we get the schedule from the high school athletic director and we sit down, we can get it straightened out,” agreed Jim Fleming of Crest Drive, the baseball association’s vice president and scheduler. “Why affect baseball and force something that is not the right decision,” said Chris Carrione of Colonial Road, noting that 100 games are played on the junior field each season, while the girls varsity program plays only nine or 10. “Let’s do something temporary over the winter for next spring’s varsity program while we find long-term solutions,” he added. One solution that was advanced at a previous borough council meeting was to refurbish the Sunset Street field into a varsity softball field. Carrione said that job could be done for under $10,000 on a temporary basis and for $35,000 as a long-term solution.. Mayor Joseph Monahan charged Borough Administrator Michelle Dugan with coordinating a meeting of all the interested parties and reporting back to the council at its Nov. 5 meeting. Scouts collect for pet shelter Midland Park Girl Scout Troop 134 is collecting pet supplies and food for Angels for Animal Network, which takes in abandoned animals until homes can be found for them. Items being collected include dry cat food, cat toys, cat treats, and cleaning supplies, such as paper towels and bleach. Donations are being accepted at Highland and Godwin schools, and in the Junior Room of the Midland Park Library. For more information, contact Kathy Thompson at getjr@verizon.net. 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