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DPW, Warren Little League at odds over who maintains east side park

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WARREN TOWNSHIP, Ind. – The Warren Little League is calling on the CBS4 Problem Solvers, asking for help and claiming the city isn’t holding up its end of their latest lease.

The Warren Little League leases the property along Brookeville Road and just extended its contract into 2021. For years, the president has been frustrated with the conditions surrounding their baseball diamonds.

“We’ve got some issues,” said Charles Taylor, league president. “The city is responsible for pretty much everything except for what is inside the fence line. So, the diamonds are technically ours. We manage the grass, the infields, everything inside the fences we are responsible for taking care of.”

Taylor showed CBS4 the overgrown grass and weeds, saying the city doesn’t mow as often as it should. He said the fencing needs repaired. In addition, he was upset when in 2019, he requested the Department of Public Works address some big potholes in the park’s gravel roads. The city never sent out a crew and a sponsor ended up paying for the improvements.

“Over $60,000 in the last five years in field renovations and equipment,” Taylor said, frustrated. “We’ve spent a lot of money on a property that isn’t ours so that we can provide an experience for our athletes.”

Now, a condemned electrical box needs replaced.

CBS4 obtained one of the league’s old contracts and emails between it and the city’s parks department. In April 2019, the Parks Department looked at the electrical box and determined the repairs would cost more than $10,000.

The senior manager of athletic programs wrote, “Parks does not have this in the 2020 budget.”

The league responded and offered to chip in for some of the expense, but said it never received further correspondence regarding the matter. Taylor said that tends to happen often, where the city doesn’t reply to their concerns.

CBS4 asked the Department of Public Works about its role with the Warren Little League fields. DPW confirmed it provides general maintenance for all parks, including perimeter mowing and gravel driveway maintenance.

In an email dated January 2020, DPW said:

“There is no specific budget for each park, but a general budget for Parks Maintenance is allocated for all maintenance issues, prioritized across all Indy Parks. I therefore don’t think it’s correct to say that there isn’t money in the budget for Warren Little League’s park, but rather that the maintenance items requested at this location may have not yet taken priority over other work DPW Parks Maintenance is completing at other parks around the county. We could certainly follow up on the status of specific items that have been requested, if Mayor’s Action Center ticket numbers are provided.”

The league provided CBS4 with at least one MAC ticket, but said it was never addressed.

Ronetta Spalding, DPW’s spokesperson, said records show the city mows weekly and every other week over the summer. She said if the league wants to mow more, “the league is free to mow or increase the frequency as needed,” meaning they can mow it themselves.

CBS4 pressed further about the electrical box and pothole problems. Eventually, the city said both issues were the league’s responsibilities, per the contract. When asked whether this type of agreement was typical city-wide, Spalding responded:

I encourage you to reach out to other field owners and operators for their policies. You’ll notice that many entities charge a per hour fee for field rental to account for games, practices and other usage. These fees could also include extra charges. 

“Even at a possible $75 per hour fee, it would take only four hours to reach the $300 that Indy Parks charges for exclusive use of the fields during their activity schedule along with the license agreement responsibilities.”

CBS4 then asked about some of the dugouts that were crumbling at the fields. One, in particular, looked like it may collapse any minute.

“To put kids in here, I wouldn’t do it,” Taylor had said. “It’s bad.”

The city said the dugouts were not approved by the city and were therefore in violation. Instead of condemning the structures, crews tore them down completely.

“As we discussed, it’s super helpful and also is part of our license agreement for the League to get approval before installing/building new dugouts and other items at the park,” Spalding emailed.

Warren Little League’s fall season begins Aug. 22.

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