Editorials published by the Goffstown Residents
Association are written by various members and
contributing non-members of the GRA.

   
May 9, 2008

EDITORIAL
Mountain View Softball Fields to go Private?
Friends of Softball offer $50K in improvements - with a catch


     

On March 17, 2008, the Friends of Softball (FOS) submitted a proposal to the Goffstown School Board whereby the FOS would fund $50K in improvements to the Mountain View Middle School (MVMS) softball field.  But there was a catch: Once the improvements are made, the fields - publicly owned and taxpayer-supported - would become off limits to programs such as Goffstown Junior Baseball, which currently serves over 420 children from our school district.

The board then unanimously approved the Friends of Softball proceeding with the upgrading of the MVMS field.

Keep in mind that this is a taxpayer-owned facility...no notice was given by the school board and no public hearing was ever scheduled.

We are well aware of the current condition of that field and what these improvements would mean to the school softball teams and the Babe Ruth Softball program. We also realize that from a fiscal perspective, this would be a win-win for the Town in that taxpayer funds would not be expended for these improvements.

But as far back as we can recollect, programs such as Goffstown Junior Baseball have always been allowed the use of the softball field at MVMS.  And remember - Mountain View is a taxpayer-funded field.

School Board chairman Keith Allard told us that the board is "...looking to place restrictions on the use of the field in what it is used for so that is it maintained and not damaged as it has in the past.  An example is that Tristate soccer used the field and would cause some damage.  With $50k in private funding being put into the field, we want it maintained properly and be used for what is was designed for numerous years ago."

Again, this is a taxpayer-supported field.  Why has there not been a public hearing on this?  Allard told us the school board is holding a "public" meeting on Tuesday, May 13th at 7:00 PM at Mountain View Middle School, and that notice of this meeting has been posted.  When we asked where the notice was posted, he did not respond.  As of this writing, there is no notice whatsoever posted anywhere on the school district's web site that we could find. 

Goffstown Junior Baseball pays to lease the space at the Lions Field.  They have also paid when asked to contribute funds to maintain the Mountain View fields.  They have used Cemetery Field, Roy Park, the Sarette Fields, the Mountain View Gym and Hilltop and the Maple Avenue Gym.  And Goffstown Junior Baseball has always used these facilities without issue. 

Goffstown Junior Baseball has never asked for anything from the Town.  They have been, and remain, self-reliant, a claim few youth organizations in New Hampshire can make.  Yet the school board is now poised to deliver control of a publicly-owned, taxpayer-supported facility to a private organization without any input from their constituents.

There are other interesting issues to consider as well:

  • Facility Use Policy:  The first use of this taxpayer-owned school facility is for school activities. The second is municipal use, and finally, the third use is for private groups. How does one private group's donation negate the first two use priorities, and have more sway over other groups?
  • Opportunity:  Why wasn't there an opportunity for all of the groups using the facility to submit a "bid" to help improve the facility?  Now that we think of it, how can any publicly-owned facility be put up for "bid" in the first place?
  • Public Notice: 
    • When was this advertised so that all groups had a chance to respond?
    • When was a public hearing on this held? (Answer: There was none.)
  • Public Ownership: 
    • This land is public land, not private land.  What's next?  Is the gym for sale??
    • How does a private entity take over a public facility for their own use??
  • History Lessons:
    • The present Goffstown High School softball field was originally built through the all-sports booster club AND THE TOWN OF GOFFSTOWN DPW Department. GJB used to practice there but was not allowed to practice there after the Babe Ruth Softball program made improvements. GJB teams practiced there until 2003. Goffstown High School softball teams had no field prior to this and played their games at the GJB facility at the Villa. What if GJB and the Villa had said "No" to that: where would the Goffstown High School teams have played?
    • GJB has paid a yearly stipend to the school district for use of the field. Does that not matter???

 

 It is IMPERATIVE that Goffstown residents/taxpayers attend the
 school board's "public" meeting on this issue.

 Tuesday, May 13th at 7:00 PM
 Mountain View Middle School.

 

 


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  Copyrightę2008, Goffstown Residents Association.  All Rights Reserved.


 

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Copyrightę 2008, Goffstown Residents Association.  All Rights Reserved.