|The Bulldogs show their game faces.|
Nicholas reminded Commissioners that the BTAA (Bethlehem Township Athletic Ass'n), first formed in 1968, serves over 1,500 children. Mindful of the "economic diversity"within the Township, their goal is to make room for every child who wants to participate in their various programs, from softball to football. In addition to providing camaraderie and building life experiences, Nicholas argued that the Bulldogs are a "nucleus for the community to get together and get to know one another."
Vincent Spina, a former BTAA President, echoed Nicholas. He reminded Commissioners that, a few years ago, they reduced their annual contribution from $55,000 to $40,000. He said a field use fee "would be devastating for our organization."
Hudak did find support for an increase from Recreation Board member Barry Roth. He said that, over the past 20 years, he's seen the Township provide an office for BTAA records. Commissioners spent $280,000 for athletic fields that were supposed to be a band shell, and then spent $300,000 for lights that are sometimes left on until 6 am. "These are little costs, but add up in the long run," he noted. He pointed to a Boy Scout and Girl Scout troop that lost a meeting place when the Township decided to rent the building to the County for a DUI center. "Start sharing," he recommended.
After everyone had spoken, Hudak stated that he doesn't make decisions to get elected. "I represent the majority of the people," he them declared, and added he's been inundated with calls from people who agree with him. "I don't think it's too much to ask to pay for field rental," he insisted.
But to fellow Commissioner Tom Nolan, it is. Noting that he's been a resident of the Township for 37 years and has been involved with the Bulldogs himself, he stressed that the BTAA "serves the residents and especially the children." He assured the audience this is no "done deal," and that he would oppose any fee increase. "I do not want to dismiss that program based on the dollar sign," he concluded.
Then Hudak backtracked a bit, saying he really just wants to get "an official policy in place for using the fields" but he would oppose any participation in formulating that policy from the BTAA. "That's our job," he asserted.
While Commissioner Phil Barnard never addressed the field use issue, he made a point at the end of the meeting to thank the members of the BTAA who came, praising the organization for its work.