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Baseball field fees increased

Danielle Ryan

(2/16) Last year, the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners voted to begin charging a fee, for residents of town as well as non-residents, to use the town’s pavilions. Then, during last month’s February town meeting, the Board discussed increasing the fee to use the baseball fields.

The intent, by increasing the fees of renting the pavilions and baseball fields, is to address the cost of maintaining the parks in order to be able to provide the best parks available. Town staff prepared a policy to be voted upon, which in turn would also affect the current Streets, Sidewalks and Public Places Code. Some changes to the existing Code included: changing the location to submit all applications, which is now the Town office, one week prior to the desired use or activity start date; and the same field can’t be reserved for seven consecutive days (one day must remain open for public use.

The original policy had a flat rate charge of $25 to use of any of the ball fields. The new policy breaks down the fees further, separating charges dependent upon their specified use and resident versus non-resident status. As proposed, single day use for a non-profit organization is $10 per hour. The fee is 100% refundable if the field and surrounding areas are left in good condition. Single day use for residents from the Emmitsburg voting district is $10 per hour, with 50% of the fee being refunded if left in good condition. Non-residents will be charged $20 per hour. League use for a league with an address based in the Emmitsburg voting district is $50 per team per field per season. A non-resident league will be charged $100 per team per field per season. Tournament use for a youth team, ages seventeen and under, is $50 per day, and an adult team is $75 per day. Additionally, proof of non-profit status and liability insurance may be required upon application submission.

Emmitsburg has six fields available for use, and interested persons are given permission on a first come first serve basis, with first priority given to residents living in the voting district of Emmitsburg.

Both the ordinance and the policy were adopted. Some concern was voiced about raising the fees and the chance that interested users may be turned off from the increase. Commissioner President Tim O’Donnell noted that the policy could be modified in the future if people seem to be driven away from using the fields.

During the same meeting, Town Manager Cathy Willets also briefed the Board on ball field requests already received from two interested organizations: Thurmont Little League and Mid Maryland United Baseball.

In January Town staff received an email from Emmitsburg Baseball and Softball concerning their merger with Thurmont Little League. However, regardless of the merger, Thurmont Little League still expressed an interest in using three of Emmitsburg’s fields for practice, games and potentially tournaments. All children are invited and welcome to be a part of Thurmont Little League, as their goal is to get more children actively involved in the sport of baseball while harnessing a community spirit of togetherness. Thurmont Little League also noted a level of commitment to starting a softball team for Emmitsburg children. This is an important factor to some Board members.

The other interested organization is Mid Maryland United Baseball, which is the largest growing organization in Maryland. They are interested in using three fields three days a week. A representative from Mid Maryland United noted that the organization is about the kids, getting more kids involved in baseball, while giving back to the community. They noted a desire to revitalize the Emmitsburg home team by re-building a baseball team in Emmitsburg, as it was before. Mid Maryland would also be interested in hosting at least two yearly baseball clinics in town, which could potentially get more kids interested and involved in baseball.

After discussing both requests O’Donnell asked if both organizations’ schedules could be managed by town staff. Willets suggested the Board approve the application for Mid Maryland United, which committed to three specific fields. Then, at a later time, the Board can assess any further requests, including Thurmont Little League. The Board made a motion to accept Mid Maryland United’s request to utilize their specified baseball fields, and made a second motion to allow Thurmont Little League to use the remaining three fields in the complex. All voted in favor of both motions with Commissioner Joe Ritz abstaining.

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