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 Childrenâs Center, attended the afternoon recreation program. It isnât feasible to run a quality program for so few children, he told the villageâs 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.
âWe have really good people who have stepped forward. Theyâre willing to help out but I wonder how long they will continue once their kids get older,â 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 hasnât happened, Lautenschlaeger said. It is all volunteer on his part.
Last year, almost 480 games were played with most of them on the villageâs 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 doesnât envision the village being able to support the program monetarily, but it will continue to maintain the fields.
âDanny (Birenbaum, public works director) and his crew do a wonderful job,â Lautenschlaeger said. âThey drag the fields everyday before games and cut the grass.â
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.
âMost other communities donât touch the fields,â he said. âIn Plymouth, they have retirees who take it very seriously.â
Lautenschlaeger said coaches are already being asked to do a lot and parents arenât willing to volunteer.
âWe even have trouble getting them to man the concessions stand once during the season,â he said.
Boehnlein suggested he have people pay more if they donât volunteer.
The high school boostersâ 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 villageâs 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 thatâs also in the budget, but one of the ball park items may have to be cut.