Kids just want to play ball. They don't understand why adults sometimes don't seem to get it. And Plainfield is no exception.
When I took office a year ago, Plainfield had a situation where the prior administration had favored one group of parents and supporters against another. It was ugly and unworkable. My hope was that we would be able to bring all those interested in playing baseball together. Sadly, that has not been able to work out, despite one season of trying.
Part of the contention arises from the fact that Plainfield never in its history had a city-sponsored baseball league until my predecessor initiated the Negro League in 2010--just four or so years ago. Prior to that time, youth baseball in Plainfield had been under the sponsorship of the Police Athletic League, with the city only supplying playing fields. However well-intended, this policy of my predecessor was misguided and has had unfortunate results.
Among the hard feelings caused has been a whisper campaign against the other baseball group, alleging financial improprieties. Those allegations were found to be baseless by a judge, and the matter was closed with both sides being party to a gag order forbidding them to discuss the settlement publicly. Those who are circulating these rumors were not part of that proceeding and have no standing in the matter.
Over the past several months, Acting Director of the Department of Public Works and Urban Development Eric Watson and Parks & Recreation Superintendent Roni Taylor have met several times with representatives of the former Negro League to try and broker an agreement as to how to proceed. Despite trying, we could not come to a meeting of the minds.
Accordingly, I am giving my blessing to any and all -- including the former Negro League and its supporters -- who wish to recruit teams and form a league for the 2015 season and going forward. There will be a level playing field and all will be treated fairly and with respect, in a truly sportsmanlike manner.
The City of Plainfield will stand firmly by its historic policy of allowing teams to be formed and managed by private groups and individuals, with the city's responsibility being to provide and maintain ballfields for the use of our young baseball players. My administration will see to it that the use of the City's ballfields is equitably split between the teams and leagues that wish to play and who meet the city's criteria for use of the fields.
America has two proud traditions--cooperation and competition. I would have preferred cooperation, but if it has to be competition, that is the American way, too.
So, as we anticipate the 2015 season, let's ALL play ball!