HUBER HEIGHTS — The future of parks and recreation in Huber Heights – and specifically the fate of Field No. 1 at Cloud Park – was the center of debate at Monday night’s city council meeting.
Council member Nancy Byrge presented a resolution declaring the city’s intent to improve park facilities including upgrading the field at Cloud Park with lights and fences for use in Little League tournaments and other events.
Byrge said the idea was to assess all park facilities and land usage and said the process included three steps. The first step would be to upgrade the baseball field, the second step would be to create a strategic plan and the third step would be implementation of the plan. She said the goal was to create a master plan and financial forecast for the city’s parks.
“The one point I want to make is that this is not about baseball, this is not about soccer, this is about all our sports and finding ways available to us to meet everybody’s needs,” Byrge said.
But Councilman Richard Shaw spoke up against the resolution.
Shaw said he had spoken with the president of the local Little League organization, who was against the plan. He suggested the city enter into 50-year agreements with youth sports organizations that would waive fees charged to the groups for use of the city’s fields. The groups could then use the money to improve and maintain the fields.
Shaw also commented on the lack of recreational facilities for handicapped residents and parks that need upgrading. He called for upgrading current facilities before upgrading the baseball field.
Byrge said the resolution was designed to create a management structure and the baseball field project was the best way to jump start the improvements and attract public support.
Other council members disagreed.
Mayor Tom McMasters said the city should have a master plan in place before any work is done at Field No. 1.
“The resolution that is on the table today deals strictly with Field 1,” McMasters said. “I think there is a lot of support for a parks and recreation overall plan and how we get to that, but these are two totally different issues other than this one should come after that plan is in place.”
Council Member Otto Glenn Otto agreed. “I don’t think we should jump off into building this ball field up before we examine the needs of all our user groups,” he said.
Council Member Tyler Starline, who grew up in Vandalia, told how that city’s sports complex was created and presented it as a model for how to move forward.
“I like this idea, but what bothers me is it looks like is that we are starting and then build the plan to justify it later, or to support it later,” he said. “I’m not going to pass it until we know what the plan is.”
Otto and Shaw both called for getting all the groups that use city facilities together to help create a plan for the future.
“There are a lot of volunteers that are sitting in this room and outside listening to this meeting, they don’t feel very appreciated right now because they’ve been left out in the dark,” Shaw said.
Brian Daulton, vice president of Huber Heights soccer, spoke against the baseball field upgrade and suggested that representatives from all the sports programs sit down and discuss the future. He said the plan as presented would take away from the multi-use nature of the area at Cloud Park.
Council Member Mark Campbell suggested the resolution be moved to a second reading and council collect more information to be discussed at future council work sessions. That’s what council decided to do.
Meanwhile, the Parks and Recreation Board will meet Thursday, 6:30 p.m., at city hall and also will discuss the issue.
Reach David Lindeman at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.