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Councilman Trimble urges city to take first step in field sign negotiations

While the Montesano city administration has decided to wait until the baseball and softball seasons end to begin negotiations with several user groups on a new user agreement for Crait, Nelson and Vessey fields, City Councilman Tyler Trimble pushed the city to take the first step on Tuesday. Trimble requested that the city repeal its resolution allowing for the sale of signs at Vessey Field.

In February of 2009, Resolution 799 was written to provide for the selling of advertising signs to line the outfield wall at Vessey Field to be sold and the funds collected into a fund to be used for capital improvements on the field. No signs have been sold to date and the possible revenue source remains untapped.

On April 8, Montesano Summer Baseball Program Director Paul Bialkowsky came before the Montesano City Council to propose an amendment to Resolution 799 that would allow the user groups of Vessey Field to sell advertising signs and use the money as the group sees fit. Shortly after that time, the city administration hypothesized the idea of creating a resolution with all of the groups that use the three fields that would require half of the money from the sign sales to go into a fund controlled by the city for capital improvements. The idea was met with considerable backlash from parents and user groups who were worried that the advertising revenue currently collected on Crait and Nelson fields, which do not have any language in the user agreements allowing or not allowing the sale of signs, would no longer be available.

City administration has since moved forward with a plan to re-negotiate the terms of the agreements with the user groups, which expire on Jan. 1, after the playing season is over for each group.

“The only way we can have a fresh start and get a new user agreement is to have 799 off the board,” Trimble said in a recent interview with The Vidette. “It makes common sense to take out 799. To take 799 off the board right now gives us something that we can move forward with. It is a positive move forward that the user groups believe the city is doing something for them. It makes it a fresh new slate.”

With Resolution 799 repealed, it would be possible for the user groups to sell signs to place on the fence at Vessey Field this season and use the funds for whatever purpose the user groups see fit. Bialkowsky said one reason he first began looking into resolution 799 was because the summer baseball program has to charge each player $250 to be a part of the program each year because of the high operation costs and the advertising revenue would possibly decrease that cost to each player.

Trimble sits on the Montesano Parks Board as a liaison between the city council and the board and he has been a part of discussions with members of the user groups, such as Bialkowsky, about what might be a possible solution to the current sign revenue resolution. At a Parks Board meeting on June 4, there was a brief discussion of a draft resolution that would have each user group pay $1,000 per year for the use of the city fields.

Aberdeen has an agreement similar to what was proposed with its youth sports organizations such as Little League and Babe Ruth baseball with each user group playing a varying amount from $483 for some of the teams that don’t use to city facilities as often up to $943 for some of the larger programs with numerous teams.

Included in the fee for field usage is the upkeep of the park along with all of the setup of the fields for a game. The Aberdeen Parks and Recreation Department takes care of everything to maintain the fields including mowing, fertilization, and drainage work to each field as well as repairs from water line breaks and other repairs to the facility and even garbage pick up.

“I don’t know if an agreement like the city of Aberdeen has is right for Montesano, but it is a good place to start,” Trimble said. “I don’t think our city can do the same thing that Aberdeen does, because we do not offer the things they offer and we are not staffed the way they are.”

No matter what the result of the negotiations with the user groups may be, Trimble said he is confident that repealing 799 is the first step.

“Getting 799 off the board is just a positive step for all users to sit back down together,” Trimble said.