Tuesday, June 02, 2015
In Split Vote, Bulldogs Recognized as "Official" Township Sports Group
Just two weeks ago, Hudak spearheaded a discussion on establishing a formal policy concerning field use by the Bulldogs. That proposal was supported unanimously.
Prior to that, Hudak has argued that the Bulldogs should "pay to play." He has noted that the group gets $40,000 every year from the Township, which also spends $30,000 per year to mow the grass. In addition, $20,140 in field rental fees are provided at no charge. As a matter of fairness, Hudak has argued that it's time that the Bulldogs start paying for field use.
Resident Barry Roth, who serves on the Township's Recreation Board, has also complained at several meetings about the Bulldogs. He has seen the Township provide an office for Bulldog records and spend $280,000 for athletic fields that were intended to be a band shell. He also complains that the Township spent $300,000 for lights that are sometimes left on until 6 am.
Both Hudak and Roth have complained bitterly about a bathroom planned for the athletic fields. It may cost as much as $350,000, though Commissioners unanimously agreed to seek a $250,000 grant in a resolution adopted earlier that evening.
First formed in 1968, the Bulldogs are a nonprofit organization made up entirely of volunteers who offer recreational cheerleading, football, soccer, basketball, wrestling, softball, and Lacrosse. The $40,000 received annually from the Township is actually $15,000 less than was provided before the Great Recession. It is considered a feeder program for Freedom High School.
Proposing a resolution recognizing the Bulldogs as an official Township-sanctioned sports group was Tom Nolan, a steadfast advocate. At courtesy of the floor, Barry Roth asked for permission to discuss it when it came up, which President Marty Zawarski denied.
"How can I discuss the resolution without knowing what it says?" asked Roth, with no reply from Zawarski.
Nolan argued that, given what the Bulldogs do for the community, "I thought it's time that the Board recognizes the organization formally."
Hudak countered that if the Board recognizes the Bulldogs, it should also recognize the Freemansburg Bethlehem Township Athletic Association, known as the Blue Barons. That group only offers one sport - baseball. It also receives an annual contribution from the township. Hudak argued that the Blue Barons be recognized, too, and "not just the select group or special few."
Nolan stated he was perfectly willing to recognize the Blue Barons in a separate resolution. "Certain members of this Board are trying to contaminate this issue," he warned, adding that there are no legal issues.
Both Marty Zawarski and Phil Barnard sided with Nolan. Barnard noted that people visiting the township already identify the Bulldogs with the Township, and the relationship should be recognized.
Pat Breslin sided with Hudak. While claiming to be a big proponent of youth sports who just gave a speech to one group near Philly, Breslin reasoned that "we should focus on issues that matter.
Right after the vote, Barry Roth complained from the back of the room about being denied the right to speak about it himself. "Any other resolution we have a chance to discuss," he exploded, and stormed out of the meeting.
"He's absolutely right," muttered Hudak to Breslin.
Before voting, Zawarski mentioned that he was once an umpire for the Blue Barons, but quit because mothers kept throwing things at him for making bad calls. He must have had a few flashbacks.