By Kevin Beese
A baseball storage shed turned into a political football this week among Broadview officials.
Debate over the village’s role in financing the storage facility for a private organization became heated at times with one trustee angrily saying she would pay for the $5,000 shed herself and the commissioner of the Broadview Little League walking out of Monday’s Village Board meeting during discussions. Also, at one point, twice the shed’s cost was proposed as a way to support the baseball program, but that was never put to a vote.
Despite concerns raised by Mayor Sherman Jones and Trustee Kevin McGrier about the shed not being a budgeted item, the Village Board unanimously approved allocating $5,000 for the shed that will be used to centralize storage of Little League baseball equipment. Trustee Diane Little abstained from voting because she is a member of the Little League Board.
“Broadview Little League is a very worthy endeavor, something that’s greatly needed. We need a lot more programs for the youth of Broadview,” said Trustee Judy Brown-Marino. “(This is) something that deserves to be supported.”
Little said it has been difficult to store all the league equipment because there is not one facility big enough to hold it. She said many board members have equipment in their garages.
“We just want one central location that’s big enough to store all of our equipment, all of our supplies we need throughout the season, any additional uniforms that we might have,” Little said. “… This would really benefit the league in the long run.”
Tyrone Little, president of the Little League and husband of Trustee Diane Little, said keeping gear at a Broadview Park District facility is not feasible because getting equipment out of storage requires a Park District employee and they are not available nights and weekends – when games are conducted.
He said that new equipment has been ruined because of a leaky roof in the storage facility at the Park District’s Pioneer Park.
“It is so dilapidated that we lost equipment in there because of mold, mildew and rats,” Tyrone Little said. “… We’ve had brand new equipment that’s become useless. I have asked the Park District many times ‘Can we get a new roof? Can we get the shed replaced?’ They haven’t moved on it in four years.”
He said that the league loses equipment every year because coaches don’t turn the gear back in because of the limited storage space available. The league president said while an expense now, the shed will save the league money over the long haul because equipment will be able to be used longer.
Little walked out of the meeting at one point after he and Mayor Jones got into an argument over funding for the league.
Trustee Diane Little responded that she would fund the shed herself from money she earned as a trustee over the years.
Jones said he supports the Little League program, but added that when the village is $100,000 behind on paying vendors for services rendered, it should be taking care of its bill first.
“We should not be the sole provider,” Jones said of the village picking up the tab for the shed. “We have people who have not been paid. We have attorneys (and other providers) who have not been paid. (Little League) is a private entity that is supposed to be funded with private money.”