Editor, The Spotlight;
I have been watching the town field usage issue closely as I was in a similar situation as a coach of a travel girls’ softball team for many years.
In 2000, we left the Tomboys program at a time when many of the other higher level players from the organization — as well as other community programs in the Capital District — joined or formed teams with the goal of providing our kids with better opportunities. Facility and field usage was always an issue, even back then, and we did our best to keep it affordable, which was difficult. With a team made up of girls from several different towns, we probably had the most players from our own community at four or five of the 13 players. At that time, we didn’t even pay for field use, as for the most part, it was on a first-come basis.
The proposed requirement that 90 percent of players be from within the town is absurd. Are you also telling me you are going to start checking all of the users that are enjoying the parks, etc., to make sure their group is 90 percent? I think not, and it saddens me that these fine groups are being singled out. Even Tomboys, who now recruit from outside our community to maintain membership, is in jeopardy of this rule.
As I listen to the reasons for why this situation has become such a debate, and witness the specific targeting of Mr. Steve Peterson and his baseball group, I am disgusted at how the Town of Bethlehem is “rewarding them” for their hard work and dedication to our children. For years now this program has taken it upon themselves to construct, repair, and care for their home field when the town could not afford it themselves or just didn’t care. Now all this effort and financial investment is being stolen like some modern day Robin Hood where they not only can’t get preference to reserve this field, but are being charged exorbitant rates to use it when they do. Are you telling me that the cost to maintain this field by the town outweighs the benefit of what these folks donate(d) to its care in addition to thousands they already pay?
I don’t buy it for a second and see this as just another money grab and chance for John Clarkson to flex his muscles of control to bully our residents into paying more to utilize something already built and paid for. Lest you forget that having our kids occupied with sports helps to keep them off the streets, substance abuse free and out of mischief. Just another selfish act by the town administration.
It seems like every day I wake up to find that those who have not been a part of building this fine town are doing something new to tear it down and make it what they want. I continue to encourage everyone to stand up, get involved and speak their mind to protect what we have built. It not too late!
— David Harrington
Editor’s Note: Mr. David Harrington is a longtime resident of Bethlehem. In 2015, Harrington ran as a Republican candidate for the Bethlehem Town Board.