Parker's Park for Kids
Group uses Facebook to help resolve dispute over use of fields
Alexandria community members and member of the Northridge Class of 1976 hope a Facebook page called Parker's Park for Kids will help resolve a dispute between the Northridge Youth Athletic Association and the Alexandria park trustees board.
NYAA board members decided to discontinue practices at Alexandria's Parker Community Park, having them instead in Homer.
Association board president Doug Carter previously said that a pointed letter from the Parker Community Park trustees helped fuel the decision to move the practices and games to Homer.
The trustees say they believe they are asking the NYAA to pay a reasonable fee to use the park and help the board maintain it. In the letter, the trustees asked the NYAA, among other things, for $300 to help pay for mowing the park and for a schedule of NYAA practices. Local parents, who don't want to drive their children to Homer, and the trustees would like to have the practices return to Parker Community Park, if possible.
"There is a community effort to resolve the dispute," said Northridge Class of 1976 vice president Kim Beem.
Beem said the new Facebook group was formed to assist the park board by volunteering and fundraising in support of youth sports at the park. Additionally, Beem said, the Northridge Class of 1976 donated the disputed $300 in an effort to remove that financial obstacle and promote discussion between the NYAA and the park board.
"We feel like we're making progress," Beem said. "We're not interested in taking sides on this."
She said she believes park board members are "feeling remorse" for the strong tone of their letter to the NYAA, which opens this way: "Back in March of this year your coaches just came rolling into Parker Community Park with dozens of children and began taking possession of our sports field and utility building without saying one word to anyone on the Board of Park Trustees." The letter also suggests that NYAA members had taken a harrow belonging to the park and didn't return it -- a claim that Carter strongly denied.
The NYAA then worked out an agreement with the Burlington Township trustees to allow the NYAA to use four ball fields free of charge, and the NYAA will mow the fields and make improvements with league money.
"We can't work things out if people won't come to the table," Beem said. "We need to do something. We need to be a catalyst for change."
She said the Facebook group's goal is to help the park board make Parker Community Park better for children and to return youth sports to the park.
Park board chairman Harold Lee said although he didn't write the letter to the NYAA, he understands how its tone could be perceived as "nasty." He said NYAA board members have not contacted him or returned calls, but he would like to discuss the situation with them.
Lee said the park board is interested mainly in receiving a schedule of practices from the NYAA to help plan use of the park's shelter house and parking.
Beem said the Facebook page, which has more than 70 members, shows how much Alexandria residents care about their community.
Carter could not be reached for comment.