Youth baseball groups crying foul over Watertown’s fees

WWNY Youth baseball groups crying foul over Watertown’s fees

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Two youth baseball organizations in Watertown are crying foul, saying city council is making it harder for players to hit the diamond.

Both Watertown American Little League and Upstate Youth Association have had their seasons cut short by two months and now they're trying to make up for lost time.

"We're the only leagues trying to do something right now for these kids that had their baseball season stolen from them," said Bill Soluri, Upstate Youth Baseball Association president.

But, the leagues say they need more fields to play on.

Watertown American Little League President Jeff Wekar went to city council, asking to waive the fee to play additional games at one of the city's vacant fields. But city council denied that request. Now, the Little League may have to play its games in other cities where the fields are free to use.

"We're going to have families that won't come. That won't be able to travel. Some have the means for transportation, some don't have the means for transportation, so potentially we could have some families that won't be able to play in those games," said Wekar.

Meanwhile, to enforce safety protocols, the only field that will work for Upstate Youth Baseball Association is the field at the Watertown Fairgrounds. But the price city council is asking for to use the field is something the association can't afford.

"We requested three weekends and made them an offer and we were willing to go up on that offer in good faith, if they would have came back to negotiate with us a little bit. But they came back with the fee is what it is, and it's going to be between $6,000 and $6,500 in order to play three weekends of baseball," said Soluri.

Council Member Jesse Roshia says there are only about 6 or 7 players in the Upstate Youth Baseball Association that live in the city of Watertown and the expense to get the field in playing condition and maintained for 6 days of baseball would be too expensive.

City Manager Ken Mix says City Council is holding to the fees that they've already set.

"They've gone through and they've set the fees and that's what they're requiring for all organizations to use our facilities," said Mix.

Soluri says in the meantime teams have been setting up their own scrimmages, with individual families splitting the costs of the field and umpire.

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