Why are Ridgefield citizens unable to use the Little League baseball fields in Abrams Park? We pay taxes on them. Nevertheless, they are padlocked from the public, with the exception of Little League. I understand Little League is tax-exempt. When members of the community who pay taxes questioned this, they were informed by the park board that Little League had the right to do so because they have an informal agreement with the city of Ridgefield. I might add, the baseball fields take up half of the park. Children can’t use these fields if they aren’t in Little League. What is up with this?
—Sue Burns, Ridgefield
Sue, we fired your question straight at Steve Wall, Ridgefield’s public works director, and he clarified a few things in an emailed response.
For one thing, he said, you don’t pay any taxes toward the Abrams Park Little League fields. They were developed over the last few decades by Ridgefield Little League; the city of Ridgefield has a formal agreement with Ridgefield Little League “in which RLL is responsible for the operations and maintenance of the ball fields (i.e. the city and its taxpayers do not pay for nor maintain the baseball facilities),” Wall wrote.
The agreement also gives RLL the annual right to first-priority use of the fields during the Little League season, he said. But that’s not why the gates are locked now.
They’re locked because some community members have decided it’s OK to start using the fenced baseball fields as a dog run, Wall said. That’s understandable, he added, but Ridgefield code forbids dogs to be off-leash except when they’re in a designated dog park. And Ridgefield doesn’t have any of those right now.
“The use of the ball fields as an off-leash area has caused some significant concern by the RLL that the money, time and effort they’ve invested … is being impacted by the recent increase in dog and human traffic. The fields have been locked by the RLL in an effort to prevent damage to the fields and to protect the years of investment in the fields,” Wall said.
Wall said Ridgefield is working through a process with dog owners and Ridgefield Little League to figure out the next move. Meanwhile, he said, the Abrams Park baseball fields take up approximately 2.3 acres out of Abrams Park’s 11.5 acres of active, taxpayer-maintained space. That’s about one-fifth the total area.
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