LETTER: City, county offer no solutions, only excuses, on recreation

To the editor:

During the 2015 general election, there was a chance to approve a “new sports complex.” The measure failed due in part because the city does not take care of the current facility. The bathrooms are still Porta-Potties. How embarrassing that someone visiting a nice field and their children have to use such facilities.

With all the money being spent on this complex, why not build one in the city? In Chehalis, Washington, there is a four-to-five-field complex for kids in a building the size of the empty parking lot across from the field in Rockingham. And it sure as heck cost less to build and maintain than the proposed complex desired by the city/county.

OK, this is the jest of my vent.

I played organized Fastpitch softball for more than 30 years. I played nationally and internationally, on some of the best — and worst — fields in America, Canada and Mexico, so it is not a stretch to have a vision of a complex within city limits.

Since moving to Rockingham from Seattle, where some of the best softball in the nation is played, I have felt the desire to get into the local leagues.

Since there is no men’s Fastpitch, and to play would mean to travel, I had a get together with some local talent that showed some interest and curiosity to play; however, with little turnout, it did not happen.

As I approached this idea to play, I noticed how bad the county fields were managed.

a. Fields not level, and some outfields were a series of speed bumps.

b. Bases were at least 30 years old, plastic and a danger to those playing.

c. One pitching mound was so old it is WOOD.

d. Fencing is broken, or is a danger of a player getting impaled.

As I looked and contemplated this dilemma of wanting to play, clean up the fields and bring revenue into the county, I formulated a plan.

I contacted the county manager regarding beautification of the complex so quality tournaments can be played and bring monies to retailers, hotels and restaurants. He supported and directed the parks manager to contact me. As I waited, I also approached the Richmond County Visitors Bureau to assist and collaborate in this project. I received a call from the parks manager and forwarded the proposal, which was a follows:

If the county was to dump a truckload of dirt, purchase tubing to protect players on the fences, replace bases and pitching mounds and level one field’s outfield…Here is the beauty of the plan: I would have done it for free if they furnished the materials.

No response.

Just last week, I contacted the mayor of Rockingham about having some adult softball at the field in Rockingham proper. I even told him that we could schedule the games so as to not disrupt the kids’ league. (I will get to kids later.)

First excuse: There is no time to play, where I just told him we could work around that problem, and just play when kids were not using the fields.

Second excuse: There is not field maintenance, where there is daily maintenance already being done.

Each of the efforts to bring revenue into the city and county was shot down. Why?

The question of revenue, and telling kids who live outside the city limits they could not play, tells me that both the city and county are manipulating, through politics, an excuse to build a complex that was overwhelmingly shot down by the voters.

To use the youth of your community as pawns for the building of a complex is inexcusable.

In closing, I wish to say that any municipality that turns down free labor, and an opportunity to bring a steady source of revenue, makes one wonder what really is their agenda.

Again, as with the tent community for the homeless, I find the local government not wanting to get their heads out of the sand and see what is outside Richmond County. Very sad.

Mark Joplin


Transitional Services of Richmond County