EDITORIALS

Playground board sets the record straight in wake of school move

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

Following numerous articles and editorials regarding the Greencastle-Antrim varsity baseball team moving its home games from Barkdoll Field at the Jerome R. King Playground to the school complex, and an apology from Superintendent Greg Hoover, which the board greatly appreciated, the playground’s board of directors is writing to clear up any remaining concerns or questions in the community.

We fully understand the logistical reasons for which the team decided to relocate from the community’s historic athletic location; however it’s unfortunate that the school district failed to notify us after more than 30 years of the team playing at King Playground. The playground board has ALWAYS made the baseball team its number-one priority regarding the use of the field, and we have turned away other baseball programs over the years to ensure that the team would have open access for practices and games as needed. Our first notice of the move was an article which appeared in a Waynesboro newspaper several weeks ago.

We would like to clarify some comments regarding cost and maintenance attributed to the school district’s athletic director, Vicki Ritchey, which have appeared in several newspaper reports. First, the playground cannot charge for its facilities, but humbly accepts donations. The high school agreed to a donation of $50 per game more than 30 years ago. This amount remained in effect until 2003 when the high school administration determined that it should increase the donation to $100 per game to assist the playground with ever-increasing maintenance costs. The donation does more than pay for game days. The baseball team had exclusive use of the field from their first practice until the season ended, in addition to the games.

The board has always provided field preparation through a paid custodian, board member, or by others who volunteered on behalf of the board. It is true that no one had been designated by the playground board to prepare the field for games the past two years, only because we were notified that the high school had a parent who would graciously volunteer his time, so it seemed there was no issue. Further, it is the board, through its volunteer efforts and generous community donations, that maintains the grandstand, mows the grass, repairs benches, and cleans and prepares bathrooms for guests of the playground.  Additionally the playground supplies paint for lining, provides special mowing, top soil, clay, lime and sand, provides portable bathrooms for early season practices, maintains the golf cart, supplies the water, fertilizes, and provides access to the snack bar and electrical services — all of which cost King Playground much more than the $100 per game donation received from the school district.

The playground’s board of directors, past and present, will certainly miss the regular presence of America’s favorite pastime at the playground — specifically the high school team — however, we are hopeful that other baseball groups in the region will see this as an opportunity to develop young athletes on Charles “Whitey” Barkdoll Field, a venue with great baseball character, where the game has been played for more than 90 years, and which remains one of Greencastle’s most treasured open spaces. Since the high school’s announcement, we are pleased to announce that King Playground has two different age groups from G-Antrim Baseball/Softball Association using the field this spring and summer.

Finally, as a non-profit playground we are continually grateful for the private, corporate and governmental donations that we receive, which allow us to continue offering a place for family gatherings, recreation, and athletic development for families and youth in our community. The Jerome R. King Playground is only able to exist with the support of the community, as it is only funded through donations.

Jerome R. King

Playground

Greencastle

Board of Directors