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Plum 'done talking' with PBAA on ballfield lease

| Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011

For the second time, Plum officials have alerted the Plum Borough Athletic Association that they plan to terminate the group's lease to use fields for children's baseball and softball games.

In a letter dated Oct. 24, the borough reiterated what it says are six violations of the group's lease, which focus on building sheds, dugouts and other items at the town's complex without obtaining permits.

The group rents eight fields for $1 per year from Plum.

Borough officials originally had planned to terminate the lease on Oct. 15 but suspended the decision when it looked like a deal might be reached.

"In good faith, we pulled back on the (first) termination letter," said Council President Mike Doyle. "We thought we could get to a resolution."

Several councilmen and association members this month drafted a proposed agreement addressing accountability, cooperation and transparency. However, the athletic association's executive board has not signed the proposal.

Council members decided to reinstitute the termination notice after reading an e-mail that PBAA secretary Jim McGrath purportedly sent to the association's board on Oct. 15, Doyle said. The new termination date is Nov. 30.

In the e-mail, McGrath wrote that the group's attorney, Rolf Patberg, "does not want us to sign a new lease, PERIOD."

"By signing a new lease or an amendment to the existing lease, only gives them more power to terminate our lease, which is not in the association's best interest," McGrath wrote.

Patberg could not be reached for comment.

McGrath said his e-mail was intended to put forth Patberg's recommendations to the board, which, up until that time, had made no decision about signing a proposed agreement with the borough or a new lease.

Doyle said Plum officials interpreted McGrath's e-mail as a "thumbing of the nose at the borough."

"We are done talking," Doyle said. "It is over and done with."

Some of the stipulations in the proposed agreement included:

• The PBAA having an annual, independent audit performed.

• The association agreeing to adopt and adhere to "standard accounting practices and policies."

• The association providing Plum with an annual operating budget at the beginning of each fiscal year.

• The association providing notice of all regular and special events.

• The PBAA coordinating repairs, maintenance or improvements to borough property with Plum.

• A separate PBAA committee being formed that would oversee the organization's financial operations.

• The PBAA expanding its voting privileges to include all participating families.

McGrath said the termination letter was expected to be discussed at a meeting Wednesday night, where PBAA executive members were to be elected.

"I wish they would just sit down and talk with (the board)," McGrath said. "I thought everything was winding down. We are trying to be as transparent as possible."

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