SKELL narrowly avoids homelessness

The better part of four days, South Kitsap Eastern Little League (SKELL) board members were sweating out the possibility of not having a field to play on for the 2002 baseball season.

For more than eight years, Rotary Field has played home to SKELL, but the season seemed in doubt when Kitsap County Parks and Recreation informed SKELL board members on April 5 the county had signed a contract with Yamamoto Hydro-seeding and Landscaping Inc. to install a new irrigation and drainage system within the next two weeks, and the job would take 60 days to complete.

Because this coincided with the season, SKELL board members feared the season would be wiped out.

Concerned SKELL board members attended the regular Kitsap County Com-missioners meeting Monday, hoping to voice their concerns.

What normally would have been a routine matter on the commissioners’ agenda, soon turned into a special case after an emotional protest from Mark Richardson, one of SKELL’s board members.

Richardson’s plea turned out to be an important step in saving the season.

After Richardson spoke, Commission-er Tim Botkin said he was unaware of the special circumstance behind the contract.

The commissioners voted unanimously to not approve the contract until further inquiry. It was only a couple of hours later SKELL president Bridget Cooper was informed the contract is being postponed until July 1.

Richardson said poor communication bad timing was the reason the issue escalated to the commissioners’ meeting.

SKELL had left messages for Cris Gears, director of Kitsap County Parks and Recreation, but he was out of town during this ordeal. Richardson said the message was filtered down to someone else in the building and nothing got done.

Richardson said County Commissioner Jan Angel was contacted soon after SKELL found out it could possibly be homeless.

Richardson said she worked diligently trying to reach a solution.

Jeff Coombe, the independent project manager for this contract, said he didn’t know about a problem with the contract until Angel called him shortly before the commissioners meeting.

“I immediately contacted Mr. (Terry) Yamamoto and explained the situation,” Coombe said. “He was very accommodating and said there was no problem. Now the kids can play ball.”

Commissioner Chris Endresen went as far as saying she was “embarrassed” about the confusion.

“I apologize for the lack of communication with the parks district,” Endresen said.

Richardson said he wasn’t sure how communication ceased.

“It happened somewhere within the department and the communication got lost,” Richardson said.

SKELL has a 26-acre complex at Manchester Park, but the only usable fields are the Minor B and T-ball divisions.

After being awarded a $75,000 grant from the Seattle Mariners last summer, Richardson said this will be the last year SKELL will need use of Rotary Field.

The Major and Minor A fields are currently under construction and will be completed before the season starts in spring of 2003.

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