A couple of weeks ago, there was a letter to the editor voicing opposition to the addition of a softball field at Bohn Park.
As a town resident and someone who voted in the survey a few years ago, I would like to show my support for this proposal by the PRC.
Lyons has seen a huge increase in the use of its ball fields in the last few years between the rising popularity of youth baseball and softball and the adult co-ed softball league. These two leagues are largely comprised of town residents that need another field.
During the season, I consider myself lucky if my team gets there for practice to find the field empty, be it because of another team using it, a youth team using it, visitors to the park playing a pick-up game or simply a dad hitting balls to his kids. When my daughter was playing youth softball, the practices were held in the middle of the afternoon on weekdays. It made it very difficult for my family to have her participate because we had to miss work to get her there and back. This was due to the large number of youth teams that needed to use the two fields.
Last year, 13 teams signed up for the co-ed softball league. Mathematically, it was simply impossible to accommodate that many teams with 4 game times on one field. They had to split it over 2 nights, which is not an acceptable solution for a rec league. Two teams were forced to drop out because of this, both of them comprised of residents who have lived in this town for decades. The remaining 11 teams had a schedule ridden with bye weeks that stretched out over 4 months to play 10 games.
Another field would allow the youth leagues to have more practices during after work hours, making it easier for families to have their kids participate.
Another field would improve the adult softball experience immensely, allowing for spring, summer, and fall leagues and playoffs to end the seasons.
Yes, this could be a money maker for Park and Rec, but that would be in no small part from having the ability to have spring, summer, and fall leagues rather than one long, drawn out summer league. My team paid $750 just for the summer league. We'd be paying out over $1000 more if spring and fall leagues were offered.
If we were able to host some tournaments, yes, it would attract more out-of-towners to Lyons. But isn't that also something that the town has been trying to do in many of its endeavors? I see quite a few of them dropping off some sales tax to us. It would also greatly help the Park and Rec staff to operate on more than a shoestring budget.
As a respondent to the survey, I also "generally" want my parks in a more natural state. That doesn't mean that Bohn Park should be treated as pure open space, which the town is virtually surrounded by. That also doesn't mean that my family doesn't want to enjoy organized sports with our neighbors. Many of those neighbors that I play softball with live in the Welch area adjacent to Bohn Park. If the survey indicated a lack of interest in athletic facilities, it has not been borne out by empirical evidence.
In my opinion, the noise of town residents enjoying their park is not a disruption. If the lights are considered a disruption, the new field will have none. Yes, the proposed field is to be UNLIT.
No additional light towers, no additional power. If the lights at the main field are a disruption, I can only offer this: of the 8760 hours in a year, the field is lit for around 100 hours. Around 1%.
A new field will take up about 300 feet squared. A little over 2 acres. If you look at a satellite image, you'll see that this would take up less than one fourth of the land in between the current field and the dirt track. Everyone is welcome to their opinion, but I just don't see this as disruptive or in contradiction to the survey. This opinion and the fact that the master plan was passed unanimously by the past BOT give little reason to revise a thorough and painstaking plan that was created with considerable public input.
I encourage all who support a new field to write the BOT to proceed with the master plan and support the PRC. Unfortunately, I won't be at the BOT meetings because I'll be busy using our field on Monday nights playing softball with my family, friends and neighbors.
Chris Cope, Lyons