SARATOGA – After some nine months of meetings, negotiations and considerable angst, the Saratoga Town Council and the Saratoga Little League finally have an agreement on the future use of the old baseball fields behind the Saratoga Library.
This agreement finally came during their Nov. 19 meeting after more heated exchanges between Ben Spaulding and some of the dozen or so supporters of Saratoga’s Little League program who attended the meeting.
Spaulding and these supporters were on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting to discuss the Council’s latest offer of either a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or a lease agreement for the use of these old ballfields. Spaulding and his group rejected both options outright.
These two agreements had been put forward by the Council in an effort to meet the demands of the Little League supporters to use the old fields, while putting some distance between the town and any liability that may come from using these fields as play areas for children.
The town’s hesitancy to reestablish this area as baseball fields comes from the area’s long history with the persistent presence of prairie dogs. The ever-present rodents, the poor quality of the soil and the area’s constant exposure to the wind and the fact that this land was beyond the reach of city water have always made maintaining nice green ball fields difficult.
Council members like Steve Wilcoxson were involved in years past when great effort and considerable money was spent trying to make ballfields up there a success. This effort proved futile and was finally given up and the town’s efforts were turned to reinvigorating the ballfields known as Wood Field at the intersection of Third and Hugus.
These fields have always been on the land owned by George and Nelly Wood. The Wood’s are gone now, and their heirs have declined to continue the town’s use of this area as ballfields. This has created the current crisis of where can the kids play Little League ball.
Spaulding and his group agreed to take full responsibility for the development and maintenance of the fields behind the library. The town’s only responsibility will be to water and mow the fields. The town is to have no responsibility for the safe use of these fields.