Participation hurts park activity; popular sports league needs volunteers
The Belgium summer recreation program in Community Park will probably not be held next year unless someone else wants to take it over, but the youth baseball and softball program is going strong.
Jim Lautenschlaeger, who runs the Rocket Recreation program, said only 40 children, the vast majority of them from Stepping Stones Children’s Center, attended the afternoon recreation program. It isn’t feasible to run a quality program for so few children, he told the village’s Parks and Recreation Committee on Monday, so he plans to drop it next year, but someone else may want to take it over.
Lautenschlaeger said he has a full-time job now and more volunteers are needed to keep the popular youth baseball and softball programs running smoothly next year.
“We have really good people who have stepped forward. They’re willing to help out but I wonder how long they will continue once their kids get older,” Lautenschlaeger said.
When he started Rocket Recreation, he was a stay-at-home dad and had the time, envisioning it as something that could potentially pay him a salary, but that hasn’t happened, Lautenschlaeger said. It is all volunteer on his part.
Last year, almost 480 games were played with most of them on the village’s five ball diamonds. Cedar Grove has two diamonds, but only one concessions stand so few games are played there, Lautenschlaeger said. Concession sales help support the program.
Trustee Vickie Boehnlein, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee, said she doesn’t envision the village being able to support the program monetarily, but it will continue to maintain the fields.
“Danny (Birenbaum, public works director) and his crew do a wonderful job,” Lautenschlaeger said. “They drag the fields everyday before games and cut the grass.”
However, Birenbaum said lining the fields has become too time consuming, about two hours per day to line four fields, and asked that coaches be responsible for finding people to do the job.
“Most other communities don’t touch the fields,” he said. “In Plymouth, they have retirees who take it very seriously.”
Lautenschlaeger said coaches are already being asked to do a lot and parents aren’t willing to volunteer.
“We even have trouble getting them to man the concessions stand once during the season,” he said.
Boehnlein suggested he have people pay more if they don’t volunteer.
The high school boosters’ Home Run Club ran the concessions stands last year and that worked out good, Lautenschlaeger said.
Registration information for the 2014 season will be posted on the village’s website and in the newsletter.
The Village Board is working on the budget for next year. A new scoreboard for Heritage Park has been put into the budget, but it will be up to the full board if it stays in, Birenbaum said.
Lautenschlaeger said he received a donation of netting for a batting cage at Heritage Park, similar to the one at Community Park, but the frame must be installed. Birenbaum said that’s also in the budget, but one of the ball park items may have to be cut.