Princeton Softball Association umpire Jack Breitkreutz has called a foul ball on the Princeton City Council for its recent decision to charge the softball association members to play softball at Mark Park.
Representatives of the school district are also crying foul. That is for the added fees for students to play softball at Mark Park, and how the council dissolved an agreement the city had with the softball association and school district for the use of Mark Park ball fields.
Breitkreutz and school board chairperson Kathy Kraft leveled their criticism at last Thursday’s council meeting, one week after Princeton Superintendent Rick Lahn had expressed his opinion, telling the council it should not go forward with the planned fees. Lahn reasoned that the district had spent considerable money on maintaining the facilities and that he understood those investments would mean there wouldn’t be fees charged to student players.
Breitkreutz told the council he sees no justification for the city charging softball association teams fees and called for their elimination. Breitkreutz introduced himself as a current softball association member and former softball player, but he is also an umpire at association games.
Kraft went to the council meeting podium after Breitkreutz and focused on the dissolving of the agreement the school district had with the city on the use and maintenance of the athletic fields at Mark Park.
“I’m a little disheartened,” Kraft said about the city dissolving the agreement without prior communication with the school board. She recalled that a couple city board members had told the school board earlier that the city and school board “need to work together.”
The hope now is that the council and school board can work together in the future for the betterment of everyone, Kraft said.
Each Princeton Softball Association team already has to come up with $750 per season to cover league play costs, and to charge each team $150 more would be hard on local sponsors, he said.
Breitkreutz also checked with the Princeton Public Utilities Commission on its annual charges for electricity at Mark Park and how the lighting system works. Breitkreutz determined that the softball association’s use of electricity amounts to $150 per season. That is not near the $942 that the PUC charges the city for all the electrical use at Mark Park between May 1 and the end of October, he said.
Also, the park is used by youth softball, soccer families, youth football and high school girls softball as well, Breitkreutz added.
That so many are using Mark Park is a good thing, but the planned fees for playing softball there is a “real killer for us,” Breitkreutz said.
Council member Dick Dobson responded that park and recreation advisory board member Todd Frederick had talked to Mayor Jeremy Riddle by phone about the issues raised concerning the Mark Park facilities. Also, there will be a meeting set up for all involved entities to discuss the matter, Dobson noted.
It was a given that when the council dissolved the 2009 agreement between the city and the softball association and school district over the use of Mark Park athletic facilities, that they would have to reach a new agreement.
City Administrator Mark Karnowski, responding to the comments from the school district and softball association representatives, said the city staff and council would “digest” their comments and information.