Monday night, 6/15/10 the Hartford Youth Commission held a special meeting to discuss parent concerns over the summer program for Middle League Boys’ Baseball and Girls’ Softball.
At the meeting I learned that the commission is having a hard time operating with the onerous financial restrictions put upon them. The previous Hartford Town Board Administration had imposed a moratorium limiting spending to no more then $125 at a time.
I feel that members of the Youth Commission would not have been appointed by the Town Board if they were not responsible citizens. To place such restrictive bounds upon them is counter productive. The Youth Commission is comprised of volunteers and this is no way to reward their hard work and dedication.
True, there may have been some irresponsible expenditures two years ago due to lack of oversite from the Commission but the way to fix the problem is to address the specific problem head-on and perhaps replace people instead of being reactionary and condeming the whole program. Besides, I think the composition of the commission is different now but they are paying the price for the transgressions of others.
Summer programs, unlike school time programs require paid Referees and Umpires. With this $125 limit, the commission contributes a small percentage towards the programs. I do not think that the commission should feel so impoverished and play such a small financial role especially considering the large amount of money in their fund.
My “Global” vision of the Youth Commission is this;
- Remove the $125 Moratorium limit and raise the spending limit to $1,000 before special permission is needed by the Town Board. Since this moratorium motion passed in 2008 it will need to be overturned by the Town Board.
- Many, many years ago (at least 15 years ago) there was a vibrant fund raising program to raise money to purchase land for playing fields. This $25,000 has been sitting in the Youth Commission account ever since gathering dust. Land was never found and one year rolled into the next and here we are some 15 or so years later with still no purchase of land. Let us give up on that idea. The time to buy the land was 15 years ago when school enrollment was up and the youth population was much higher than now. Buying land, if it were available would have been done long ago. Enrollment in school is down. The need to purchase additional fields has long passed and the money just sitting there benefits no one.
- Re-vitalize the plan the Commission brought forward 2 years ago to install a little kid baseball diamond behind the FireHouse. The Commission had lined up Hartford Volunteer Fire Company support, volunteer bulldozer work, and manual labor. At the time it was estimated that it would take about $5,000 to install a field on the HVFC land. But this was turned down by the Town Board because they would not have 100% ownership and control over the land.
- If the Commission had an additional field behind the FireHouse and still used the fields at the school then they would have sufficient fields for the decreasing youth population and would not need to spend $25,000 on buying land. No matter how much we may want it, there will never be a guarantee that the State will not mandate that the FireHouse requires a training facility, etc which would require the HVFC to take back the field. That should not deter us because you could spend all day dreaming up imaginary scenerios which would make you immobile if you succumbed to these worse fears.
- With the FireHouse field, the need to buy land would be eliminated and the $20,000 remaining could be used on a conservative basis to decrease the amount of money the parents have to outlay in order for their kids to participate.
- The Commission needs to be a little more demanding upon the parents to participate in fund raising. The Snack Shack is a good money maker but not when it is closed because parents resisted the call to contibute their time in manning it. With strong fundraising efforts the $20,000 available could stretch for 15-20 years. That is not impossible to accomplish especially when you consider the fact that the $25,000 came from zealous fundraising efforts to start with.
- The account has $10,000 additional money set aside for equipment replacement. Some equipment has been replaced but much is still in poor shape. Get on with it and replace the equipment if it no longer provides protection and safety. There is sufficient money for this but not when you are restricted to spend no more than $125 at a time.
- If a child gets injured and needs an icepack the coach can get it at the Snack Shack. But what if there is no-one working the Snack Shack and the key to it has to be found? All coaches should be provided with an inexpensive red tool box or tackle box with SnapPack Chemical IcePacks and compress bandages. Not having to wait 10 minutes while some one searches for the Snack Shack key could make a big difference in bruising, swelling and recovery. I am not in favor of full blown First Aid Kits but most injuries will most likely be impact or collision types which would benefit from an icepack and/or compress bandage. I am no Doctor but I really doubt that you can worsen an injury or place a child in jeapardy with an icepack.
On Monday night, at the end, the Commission seemed to become energized at the prospects of my idea. They came in to the meeting looking a little down trodden and left with excitement about the future.
But, and this is a big BUT. I am only 1 vote out of 5 on the Town Board. Sometimes change is hard. If you support this idea please come to the next Town Board meeting on July 13th and let your opinion be known or call a Council Member (Barb Beecher, Lee Wilson, Bob Miller, & Kevin Eastman) and let them know. Dont forget to talk to HVFC President Kevin McCarthy or Fire Chief Brian Jones, because they also need to be onboard with this since it is HVFC land. Please also let members of the Youth Commission know your support as well. Youth Commission Chairwoman Krissy Stewart just had her baby so Sarina Lavin Gibson is filling in as Chairwoman.
If you are against this plan, please let your thoughts be known as well.