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Brentwood officials ask leaders of baseball groups to discuss field use

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Brentwood officials are urging the leaders of two baseball organizations to meet this week and work together to divide playing time on municipal ball fields.

If the groups cannot reach a decision by next Tuesday, the borough's legal counsel could be asked to determine if a long-term permit for use of four borough fields stands after two of the fields were removed and others constructed nearby as part of a Brentwood Park overhaul project.

“They can sit down and see if they can work it out,” Councilman Pat Carnevale told his colleagues at their agenda setting meeting Tuesday, where about 45 parents and youths attended. “If they can't work it out, then we will make a decision on it. I know where a lot of people stand. But the fields do belong to the community. Nothing should belong to one person.”

A group of Brentwood parents and coaches recently formed the Brentwood Travel Baseball Association in an effort to give their children better preparation and experience on the field, they said. They had plans of using fields in Brentwood Park for the five or more teams planned for this upcoming season for youths ages 7 to 14.

Yet, the Brentwood Athletic Association, holds permits for the two existing fields in Brentwood Park through 2017, documents show. The BAA had a permit for four fields since the late 1990s, but the elimination of two fields and building of two new ones in Brentwood Park has led to discussion about whether the BAA has a right to all four fields, or just two, for the next four years, officials have said.

Council members are set to vote on whether they will approve the transfer of the permits at their meeting next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

“I don't see why this is such a big issue that we get field time,” Williamson said. “It's just a monopoly. They monopolize the fields. I feel like we're being discriminated against... I don't understand why I have to talk to the BAA to get a field.”

The travel league is the first group to request long-term use and permits of the fields other than the BAA in recent years, officials have said.

The travel league is seeking use of the new Little League-size field and the high school field from March through the end of July.

The Brentwood travel group has filed for nonprofit status, Williamson said.

“If they don't come up with an agreement, this council has to go with the legal action,” council President Charlie Johnson said. “I don't think you want the law to come in and say this is the way it's going to be.”

Williamson said if it comes to that, he think he has a case. But he doesn't want to see it get to that.

“No matter which way it goes, each side is going to have a legal grasp,” council member Rich Schubert said. “You might not get everything you want. The BAA might not get everything they want. But in the long run it's going to be the best for the kids, the best for the borough.”

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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