The $20K piece of landscape art

To the editor:

This spring, the city of Oberlin spent approximately $50,000 making improvements to four of the five baseball/softball fields at the Oberlin Recreation Complex on Hamilton Street. These improvements were a necessity as the fields had deteriorated since the complex was opened 12 years ago. The city spent $20,000 on field two, which is its “premier field.”

The problem is that no little league teams can play or practice on the field due to the city declaring that the raised pitcher’s mound creates an unsafe environment for kids. This field sits vacant while others are overbooked. Playing on fields with raised mounds is something that is routinely done in neighboring communities, yet the city and its insurers claim that this is a safety issue. The city’s insurers have no liability for any injuries that occur as part of games or practices that are part of either the Ohio Hot Stove Baseball League or the Ohio Girls Softball Organization, as both are insured separately.

Additionally, the OGSO is holding tournaments in Oberlin this week, as agreed to by the city last winter. Ten days before the start of the tournament, we were informed that field two could not be used. The city’s solution was to use field five for the softball tournament, a field that was not updated and is inadequate for tournament play. Tournaments are an economic boon for the city of Oberlin with hundreds of families in town, eating at our restaurants and purchasing items at our stores. After this fiasco, it will be a very long time before OGSO considers Oberlin again. Neither will boys tournaments be bid because of broken promises. This will be taking money directly out of the pockets of Oberlin businesses.

In conclusion, to rectify this situation, the city could simply allow teams to play on field two. This would increase the fields available for Oberlin youth without affecting player safety. However, if it insists that the raised mound is a safety concern, it needs to remove the mound.

J.J. Schaum

President, Oberlin Baseball Softball Federation