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Baseball park fund raising stopped - Lannon Lions Club says village has shown a lack of commitment

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Thursday, January 16, 2003
Author: DASCHELL PHILLIPS, [email protected], Journal Sentinel

The Lannon Lions Club will stop its fund-raising efforts to create the Richard E. Schneider Junior Baseball Park because of the lack of support from the village, said the club president, Mark Spranger.

He said that the village has balked at contributing $14,700 to the $220,000 project, most of which would be funded through donations.

At one point, Spranger said, village officials indicated they had about $25,000 set aside for the project. Village officials now say they have about $12,000 available for it.

Village officials are quick to note, however, that they never committed to the project and increasingly have become concerned about the cost of the ballpark, proposed for 5 acres on Lannon Road.

In 1993, Susan Schneider donated the land to the village for a baseball park. She made the donation in memory of her late husband, businessman Richard E. Schneider.

The village discussed building the park over the years but never proceeded.

The Lions Club stepped in last year after learning the Lannon Junior Baseball League had grown to 300 players, up from 100 just three years ago. The league told Lions Club officials it needed more fields.

The club has done some preliminary work on the ball field, with the hope of opening it in 2004.

But the future of the field is more than a little hazy, now that fund-raising has ceased.

James Lamb, village clerk and treasurer, said Lannon officials do not think residents would support the project because of its cost. In addition to any village contribution to the construction cost, he said, Lannon likely would be responsible for maintenance and upkeep.

Because of those concerns, Lamb said, the Village Board held a public hearing Monday night to see whether residents support the project.

No clear consensus emerged from the public hearing.

Lannon resident Karen Nellis said that while she favors a new baseball park, she is concerned about Lannon 's contribution to the project.

"I am a taxpayer, and I want to know what I am paying for," she said. "We need more information on who is paying for what."

Roland Golner of Lannon said that residents won't support the project unless the Village Board and Lions Club are on the same page.

"They seem at odds with each other," Golner said. "They don't want to exchange information."

The Lions Club hasn't said how much money it has raised for the project.

Spranger said that the club has an open-ended donor relationship with some businesses and other contributors, who haven't committed precise amounts.

Spranger said the club has more than $17,500 on hand to buy necessities for the park. He said many people have also volunteered the time to make the ballpark a reality.

Spranger said the Lions Club believes the village does not want to contribute to the project.

"And because of their tactics, the Lions Club has decided to suspend all fund-raising efforts," he said.

Nonetheless, Village President Robert Winter said that the village's Park Committee would work with the Lions Club to get a better handle on the ballpark's cost and what kind of involvement the village might have in the project.


Visions for parkland

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Sunday, January 19, 2003

Perhaps taking a page from the county's efforts over the last few years to preserve open land while there is still some left to preserve, the City of Pewaukee has decided to try and purchase parcels of land for future development as parks. And it wants to buy the land sooner rather than later, while it's still affordable.

That's called vision, and if it all eventually does come together, city officials will have performed a real service for future generations of residents. It's also in marked contrast to the failure of village officials in Lannon to do anything at all with land that was donated 10 years ago for a baseball park. One can only hope that other municipalities opt for Pewaukee's vision rather than Lannon 's cheapness.

Pewaukee Ald. David Mokros has defined the problem succinctly: "Development down here is coming at such a rapid pace that available land is disappearing." At the same time, there is an increasing demand for city athletic fields by youth and adult sports organizations such as the Pewaukee Soccer Club. Obviously, the demand is not limited to just one community, or just traditional recreational activities. Brookfield last month decided to build a skate park for skateboarders and in-line skaters while Waukesha is facing a fierce debate over which of its parks is best suited for such a facility.

As more families move into a communi-

ty, they not only take up land for their houses, but they also want to have a place to play. Communities such as Pewaukee that are setting aside land for such purposes now are making the smart move. Pewaukee officials understand that it may take years to build a particular park or sporting facility, but they also seem to understand that they need to start planning and setting aside land now. By doing so, they're trying to help ensure that Pewaukee remains a great place to live.

But obviously such planning and good intentions become meaningless when officials fail to turn the plans into reality. In 1993, Susan Schneider donated 5 acres along Lannon Road to the Village of Lannon for use as a baseball park. In the ensuing decade, village officials have talked about building the park, but talk is a lot cheaper than construction, and Lannon officials have balked at spending any actual money.

The local Lions Club took up the cause by raising private funds for the park but has now stopped its fund-raising efforts because of what the club calls a lack of support by the village. Village President Robert Winter says that the village will find a way to work with the Lions Club. That's promising and could mean the ballpark will someday become a reality. Which is better than its current status as a symbol of official shortsightedness.


Club back to raising funds for ballpark - But not all on the Village Board support the project, saying the Lannon Lions have no concrete plan

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Thursday, February 27, 2003
Author: DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS, [email protected], Journal Sentinel

The Lannon Lions Club has resumed fund raising for the Richard E. Schneider Junior Baseball Park even though it doesn't have the full support of the Village Board.

"This park is going to be built one way or the other," said Mark Spranger, president of the Lannon Lions Club. "Unless something unforeseeable happens or the board does something to block our efforts, this park should be open by 2004."

Village Trustee Ron Dutcher, head of the village Parks Committee, also said that the building of this park is unstoppable.

"So many people are standing in line to give us money to build this park," said Dutcher, who brought the building of the park back onto the Village Board agenda. "We cannot turn down these gifts."

Dutcher said that although this project is a positive one, a few board members do not agree about how much money it should take for the park to be built.

Village Trustee Beverly Sigl Felten said that the gesture made by the Lions to raise money for the park is laudable, but she is against the effort because the club has not produced a concrete plan.

"Their plans change repeatedly, based on their funding," she said. Felten said the club's planning strategy is "backwards you don't find donors first, then make plans based on what donors say they will give. You make plans, find out how much they will cost, then raise money." Felten said she is concerned that if the donors don't keep their promises, the taxpayers of Lannon will be left holding the bag.

"I don't doubt that there is support for the baseball park, but we need to be fiscally responsible," she said. "We are looking at a time when shared revenues from the state are decreasing, sewer service costs are getting higher and salaries are getting higher. Concern about our service needs should be paramount.

"Everything we do gets taxed on the approximately 1,000 people who live here. I don't believe that Lannon should be the entity that maintains the park."

She suggested that a non-profit organization such as the Lannon Lions Club should support the fund raising and maintenance costs of the park independently.

The land, which runs along Lannon Road (Highway Y), was donated to the village in 1993 by Susan Schneider in memory of her late husband, Richard E. Schneider, with the intent that it become a junior league park. The village discussed building the park but never proceeded.

Last year, the Lions Club took on the project because the Lannon Junior Baseball League was outgrowing the current parks in the village.

The Village Board held a public hearing on Jan. 13 to find out if the residents thought that the park was worth the $14,700 expense that the Lannon Lions Club estimated would come from the village.

At the hearing, the residents who spoke out wanted the park to be built but were concerned about how money from the village and other donations would be used, and also about the way that the village and Lions Club seemed to be working against each other.

Dutcher said that he plans to take the issue to the board again with the help of Steve Ristow, president of Schneider Excavating in Lannon , and the Lannon Lions Club.

Dutcher said that Ristow created a Web site and fliers to promote building the park, and would be a good person to provide the board with details. The Lannon Lions Club is known for sponsoring projects to add the larger fixtures, such as bleachers and concession stands, and could help the Parks Committee find someone with whom it could contract to construct a baseball diamond.

Dutcher plans to take the revised plans to the Village Board in March or April.


Recalled in 1996, Gissal running again for village president - Incumbent Winter says he would continue to hold down spending

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Author: DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS, [email protected], Journal Sentinel

[an excerpt]

Gissal said he supports the proposed Richard E. Schneider Junior Baseball Park.

"There are over 250 kids in the village who play baseball and one diamond that is over used," Gissal said.

The Lannon Lions Club volunteered to raise money to build the ball field on land donated to the village for a park. Saying the Village Board was not adequately supporting the project, the club earlier this year suspended its fund-raising efforts, only to revive them later.

Some Village Board members have expressed reservations about the project, saying the Lions Club has not presented a clear plan for the ballpark.

Lannon wants Falls to cede 5-acre ballpark site

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Thursday, July 15, 2004

Author: REID J. EPSTEIN, [email protected], Journal Sentinel

Shortly after Richard E. Schneider's death in 1992, his widow, Susan, donated five-acres to the Village of Lannon for a Little League baseball field. But there was a slight problem: The tract was in Menomonee Falls, and that village wasn't interested in ceding the land to its western neighbor.

A decade later, a ball field bearing the Schneider name sits on the site, built by the Lannon Lions Club, the local volunteer fire department and other volunteers, including employees from Lannon -based Schneider Excavating, which Richard Schneider inherited from his father.

The 2004 Lannon Little League season ended Wednesday night, and, again, Lannon officials are planning to ask Menomonee Falls officials to detach to them the land, which sits on the villages' shared border along Lannon Road.

"It would work out better for us if we didn't have to go through Menomonee Falls any time we wanted to do something with it," said Dan Martin, Lannon village president.

The last time Lannon asked for the land, the request never made it out of Menomonee Falls' Plan Commission. Armed with a neighbor's concerns about noise and traffic, then-Village President Joe Greco suggested the Falls instead issue a conditional use permit for Lannon to build its ballpark.

The permit, good for 18 months, expired before any base line chalk was laid. Work on the park proceeded sporadically, and the field was finally completed this spring.

So again, Lannon is set to ask Menomonee Falls for the five-acre lot owned by the Village of Lannon that won't bring in any property tax revenue for either municipality. Lannon maintains the park, with its firefighters watering the outfield until the grass was healthy enough to grow on its own.

If Menomonee Falls cedes the land, it would mark the first time in 12 years that the village voluntarily gave up its land to another municipality, according to Mike Morse, the Menomonee Falls village attorney. The last, and only other time in Morse's memory, was in 1992, when a section of W. Carmen Ave. was detached to Milwaukee so the Ambrosia Chocolate factory there could keep a Milwaukee address.

Hector de la Mora, the Lannon village attorney, last week drafted a "petition of detachment" that, once approved by Lannon trustees, would be sent to Menomonee Falls. Because the Village of Lannon owns the property, the petition needs only to be signed by a village official.

After Lannon files its petition with the Menomonee Falls village clerk, a super-majority of Falls trustees would have to approve the detachment within 60 days. A super-majority of Lannon trustees would then have 60 days after that to accept the detachment.

Menomonee Falls Trustee Jeff Steliga said he hasn't heard anything about Lannon 's upcoming request for the land, but he did say the park looks good.

"The question is how's it going to be kept up," he said.

And the neighbor who objected to the transfer request? Tammy Dassow, who still lives in the house just north of the field, planned to spend Wednesday night watching her two sets of twins, ages 5 and 8, play for their teams in the Lannon Little League.

"In the beginning, we were concerned about not knowing what they were going to be doing," she said. "Now we like how it is; everything's great."

Waukesha County prepares to end its participation in youth sports - Some community leaders worry programs might not survive

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Thursday, May 2, 2002
Author: SCOTT WILLIAMS, Journal Sentinel staff

Management of baseball , soccer and softball leagues in several communities is moving closer to home, as Waukesha County gets ready to pull out of recreation programs that serve about 3,000 kids.

Starting in 2004, the county plans to drop its involvement in collecting player fees, setting schedules and providing other administrative help to nearly 200 teams in mostly rural areas.

Although the move will save the county nearly $80,000 a year, officials say the main rationale is that the programs support themselves financially and can be better managed locally.

But some community leaders fear that youth sports might not survive in their town or village without the steady hand of county administration.

"It's going to take a lot of effort. It's going to be difficult," said Mark Kappes, a Town of Genesee park commissioner.

The move affects organizations that include an estimated 3,000 boys and girls on 81 baseball teams, 81 soccer teams and 37 softball teams in Genesee, the Town of Delafield, Wales, North Prairie, the Town and Village of Eagle, Vernon, Lannon and elsewhere.

Unlike larger cities such as Waukesha and Brookfield, many rural communities do not have full-time recreation directors ready to pick up where the county leaves off.

The county took over the youth programs in the mid-1990s from the University of Wisconsin Extension, after that agency lost its recreation director to retirement.

Time for independence

Dale Shaver, director of the county Parks & Land Use Department, said all programs are now self-sufficient financially and there is no reason for the county to stay involved. Communities should be able to manage either independently or by forming cooperative associations, he said.

"We don't want the programs to go away," he said. "We just thought it would be a good time now to start a transition out."

Shaver said the move was approved by the County Board as part of the county's 2002 budget.

The county announced its plans last week to a roomful of local recreation supervisors and league officials, offering assurances that efforts would be made to effect a smooth changeover to local control of baseball , soccer and softball.

There will be no change in this year's programming, and the county will remain involved in 2003 in a transitional role.

In Vernon, town officials anticipated the county's withdrawal and already have formed a new baseball association with neighboring communities.

Vince Budiac, a member of the town's Park and Recreation Committee, said work also is under way to assume local control of soccer and softball. Residents actually look forward to the change, he said, because it will put an end to long-distance travel for teams involved in countywide leagues.

"It will be more of a cooperative effort and more of a local effort," he said. "It's interaction between friends."

Others think, however, that the county's involvement has helped foster competition between teams from neighboring towns and villages.

"I like the county program because it builds a sense of community," Kappes said.

Local concerns

In Wales, officials fear that their village of 2,500 cannot support its own soccer or baseball league and will have to forge a partnership with another community to continue youth sports.

Laura Dralle, the village's part-time recreation director, said she cannot understand why the county must step aside as the facilitator.

"I am concerned for the future of the program as it exists," she said.

Shaver said the county's philosophy toward recreation is that county government should provide "passive" outlets such as parks, campgrounds and lakes, while local communities should be responsible for "active" programs such as sports.

He said the biggest challenge in transferring control will be forging new organizations, either on a local or regional basis, to assume the county's responsibilities: collecting player fees; training and paying referees and umpires; training coaches; setting schedules; and maintaining standings.

But once the county is out of the way, he said, local organizers should have no difficulty managing their teams with help from parents, volunteers and local government assistance.

"It can work," he said. "Most people that you talk to think it's handled that way already."


To find out if your team or league will be affected by the change, you can call the county Parks & Land Use Department at (262) 896-8300.


Leagues may find caretaker - Programs draw interest from YMCA, Town of Eagle

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Author: DARRYL ENRIQUEZ, Journal Sentinel staff

The Waukesha YMCA and the Town of Eagle both are interested in running the county's softball, soccer and baseball leagues, which involve about 200 teams and 3,000 children.

The Waukesha County Parks & Land Use Department will discontinue its involvement after the 2003 seasons, leaving more than a half-dozen communities wondering how to continue the leagues.

Representatives from the affected communities will meet at 6:30 p.m. today in Room G-55 at the county Administration Building to create a transition committee and hear proposals from YMCA representatives and Town of Eagle recreation director Al Schmidt.

The communities affected include the Town of Delafield, Wales, the Town of Genesee, North Prairie, the Town and Village of Eagle, Vernon and Lannon .

Jim Kavemeier, county parks system manager, said the leagues are generally self-supporting. The county has noted that it will save about $80,000 annually by the move, although Kavemeier insists that the county's main motive is to help leagues prosper under local control.

"We have not expanded programs or introduced it into new areas," Kavemeier said. "We don't want small communities to be left out."

Chris Becker, executive director of the Waukesha YMCA, said running the county leagues would be a good fit for the Y.

"County programs are designed for smaller communities that don't have a lot of kids," Becker said. "But there's a real potential to keep the programs existing. The numbers have been on the decline as outlying communities have developed and formed leagues."

The Town of Eagle's Schmidt said he had run recreation programs, mostly through the Town of Mukwonago Athletic Association, for 14 years. He also is the recreation director for the Village of Eagle and currently directs youth programs for both the Village and Town of Eagle.

Schmidt said there was a need for multiple levels of competition through select teams, in which participants compete for team positions in private leagues, and recreation programs, in which all participants play.

Whoever takes over the leagues would need to schedule games, collect fees, hire umpires and referees, and certify coaches.

Schmidt has permission from the Town Board to submit his proposal. But he must return with information on the costs and work demands of operating the leagues before the board would give final approval, he said.

The Village of Eagle hasn't yet decided whether it would join with the town in running the countywide recreation programs.

Village President Lynn Greenberg said the transition committee has other options to consider. For example, she said, the affected municipalities could create regions, with the administrative duties rotated among the regions. Or, administration duties could be divided among the participating communities, Greenberg said.


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