Some 500 softball players who take the field at Montoursville's Indian Park will have to find a new place to call home after this season.
The Montoursville Men's Softball League was informed recently that teams no longer will be able to play at the facility after the completion of the 2012 season. League officials received a letter from the borough office stating that "this will be the last year Montoursville Borough Council will honor your request for the use of the fields."
Council voted unanimously on Feb. 6 to suspend softball play and instead use the fields for youth football and baseball. The decision will affect all other softball teams that play at the park, also.
Larry Solomon, treasurer, left, and Carter Magill, president of the Montoursville Men’s Softball League, at the field Wednesday that Montoursville Borough Council voted Feb. 6 to use for other purposes.
For J. Carter Magill, men's softball league president, the notice came as a surprise. Dan Nichols, borough recreation board chairman, also had no idea of council's decision.
"We've been down there for 20 years. We got no explanation. I'd like to know why," Magill said to council Monday night.
Ronald Shearer, council vice president, responded: "I'll tell you why. We made a decision to do this, and that is what we're going to do."
When Magill asked if there was any place else in the borough to host the league, Shearer said, "no."
"Six people made the decision," Shearer said, referring to council. "I talked to people in the community. I talked to 90 percent of the people."
Magill said more than 500 people play in the league, and that a lot of work and money have been put into taking care of the fields.
"We have been busting our butts," he said. "We put every single dime back into it."
Nichols said the recreation board wasn't notified of council's idea to turn over the fields to other users and suspend teams that already play there.
"For Montoursville Borough to say this is the last year for that, and that's it, it surprises me," he said.
Nichols, who has served five years on the recreation commission, said the borough has
been approached before about adding sports teams that play at Indian Park.
But "I'm shocked on how it went down," he added.
Councilman Dennis Holt said he and fellow council members had no problems with the change. He said the new users - Montoursville Little League and the Montoursville Junior Athletic Association - will have to present plans to council before they can take the fields.
"If it comes down to do something for the kids versus ... adults, it's going to be the kids," Holt said.
Mark Verrico, chariman of the athletic association's field committee, said his organization is pleased to find a permanent home for youth football players. He said the number of players has increased over the years, and finding space has been difficult. Verrico said the association does have plans from an engineer for the land.
"We've been after anyone for a piece of land," he said. "I feel bad for the softball (leagues) and I wish there was some sort of agreement. That's the bad part of the whole thing."
Magill said he would start a petition to help save the fields from changing hands.