G-A school superintendent pens apology to playground board

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

On behalf of the Greencastle-Antrim School District, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Board of Directors of the Jerome R. King Playground for allowing the school district to use Barkdoll Field as its home baseball facility for the past 30 plus years.  We appreciate the board's cooperation in making this possible, which included not only game day preparations but the regular maintenance of the field so our varsity team could play and practice at the park during their baseball season.

I also would like to offer my apologies to the playground board as we failed as a school district to notify them directly that we would no longer be using their facilities.  This is not how the 30-year relationship should have ended.  We did not handle this appropriately.

It has been reported that our move back to the school campus was because of lack of cooperation on the part of the playground board and also the money the district had to pay for the use of the field.  These reasons could not be further from the truth.  As mentioned previously, the board has always been cooperative and over the years has taken care of field preparation through a paid custodian, board member or by others who volunteered on behalf of the board.  I know that high school baseball was their number one priority regarding the use of the field during March, April and May. As far as the money is concerned, the original donation amount agreed upon some 30 plus years ago was $50 per game.  In 2003 the district increased the donation to the current $100 per game to assist the playground with ever increasing expenses.  I am sure that $100 per game did not cover the cost of preparing the field for the games and all the mowing that needed to be done to allow our teams to practice on Barkdoll Field.  In total, over the past 30 plus years, the donations made to the playground were quite a bargain for the use of a baseball field with the character of Barkdoll Field.

Again, the decision to move back to our campus was not about the playground, but about the school district.  Our field needed to be improved, even if the varsity team didn't play their games there.  Along with the districts desires to upgrade the baseball field, the baseball boosters came forward with generous donations not only from their organization but also from the community that is allowing us to move ahead on the timetable for field improvements.  It was decided that if this money was being put into the field for improvements then we should use the field for both varsity and junior varsity baseball.

On a personal note, I would like to add that King Playground is one of the “best kept secrets” of Greencastle.  Most of us know that it is there.  Occasionally we visit it.  But the bottom line is that it remains a beautiful park in town because of a dedicated group of volunteers.  I know first hand of the time and energy it takes to keep the playground running year to year, having served on the board of directors in various positions for over 25 years.  Fundraising, hosting events, providing events, cleaning up before and after reunions and maintaining the grounds could be a full-time job for someone during the spring, summer and fall season.  Instead, all those tasks are handled by nine volunteers. Equally important, the board depends on the donations from the community to keep the playground going.  By its charter, it cannot charge anything for its use, but only ask for donations.  There is no other source of revenue.  With that in mind, I would ask that you consider contributing to the playground fund drive next month.

Again, our sincere thanks and apologies to the Jerome King Playground Board of Directors and all others involved with the playground.

Greg Hoover

Superintendent of Schools


School District