Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Park Department: That's Just Not Cricket

There was a surprisingly interesting exchange between Councilor Roscoe Turner and three employees of the Parks Department who were sent to today's Urban & Economic Development meeting, to address Turner's concerns about a strip of concrete that had been poured in the middle of a baseball field in Maxwell Park.

Turns out the concrete is needed by the local enthusiasts of the British Isle's favorite bat-and-ball sport. Something about needing a consistently hard surface on which to pitch the ball (cricket pitchers bounce the ball to the batter).

Turner wanted to know why the change was made to a baseball field without the public or the council being alerted. The park spokesperson, who seemed perplexed by the whole discussion, explained that the field hadn't been used in over seven years, so in essence, they didn't think anyone would mind.

Turner then explained that the neighborhood kids often liked to use their neighborhood ballpark to play America's past time. This seemed to stump the park people.

What seemed to be at issue, was the definition of the word, "use." Turner defined "use" as kids from the neighborhood playing ball after school or on the weekends, with or without adult supervision. That's pretty much how the kids in my neighborhood (Florence Park) used Florence Park (the park) back in the dark ages of the 1960's.

Increasingly, the professional park people are responding to the change in our culture, which dictates that all activities that kids engage in, must be organized and supervised. You know what I mean. Mom drives "Johnnie" to soccer and then hustles "Suzie" to volleyball and "Becky" to tumbling class.

Our kids' lives have become so structured, that the mere idea of a group of neighborhood kids with a bat, a ball and a smattering of gloves, might want to go to the park down the street to shag some flies without having to contend with a strip concrete in the middle of center field, seems...well...as foreign as cricket.

As Councilor Martinson noted, this situation is "a bit of a sticky wicket."

1 comment:

Bhide The Hague said...

Actually, cricket is quite an interesting sport with many similarities to baseball. But like baseball, there shouldn't be a concrete strip for the bowler (pitcher) as where the ball travels is also where the batter runs.