Siloam Springs Herald Leader
City board approves youth baseball contract with Boys and Girls Club
City directors approved a contract with the Boys and Girls Club of Western Benton County to run the youth baseball program during the city board meeting Feb. 7.
Directors approved the contract unanimously. The Boys and Girls Club will provide youth baseball this year instead of the Siloam Springs Youth Baseball (SSYB) program, which has provided baseball for children ages four through 18, said Community Development Director Don Clark.
SSYB’s lease for James L. Butts Baseball Field is set to expire on Feb. 18, Clark said. The proposed measure will be a stopgap giving SSYB the chance to regroup so it can return next season.
The Boys and Girls Club will run the baseball season for ages five through 12 with the city working with the school district to put together a plan for ages 13-18, Clark said.
“City staff has been contacted by members of the public about expressing concerns about instability within the (SSYB) organization and the quality of the service offered, amongst other things,” Clark said.
City staff requested financial reports from SSYB in October of 2022, but the baseball program did not respond to the city’s request, Clark said. Staff had made multiple attempts to contact SSYB but received no response, Clark said.
DIRECTORS’ FIRST RESPONSE
Director Betsy Blair asked if the city ever received financials. Clark said the city did eventually receive a financial statement from SSYB but not an audited financial that the city asked for. Clark did not say when the city received the financial statement.
Director David Allen asked if the city requires a certified audit from other organizations. City administrator Phillip Patterson said not in other service contracts like the American Legion or Main Street Siloam Springs.
Patterson also said when the lease for the ball fields was renewed two years earlier the provision for an audit was included in the lease the board approved.
“It’s a requirement in that lease … I assume because of the money collected and the money going out,” Patterson said.
Allen also asked if the Boys and Girls Club would mow the fields like the SSYB did. Clark said SSYB had its own equipment to mow the fields, but the Boys and Girls Club does not have the equipment so Parks and Recreation will take care of the fields.
Blair said she heard SSYB had a meeting on Jan. 13 where it stated they were ready to go for the season but at a follow-up meeting on Jan. 19, the city proposed that the Boys and Girls Club take over.
Clark told her on Jan. 3 he received a phone call from an individual who said he was coming to take over youth baseball. Clark did not say who the individual was but said he and Parks and Recreation manager Travis Chaney met with the individual who said he would be establishing a new 501c3.
“So we we agreed to some particular terms. His stance at that meeting was that it was an opportunity to kind of rebrand youth baseball,” Clark said. “And so we talked about a very similar agreement that we’re doing with the Boys and Girls Club, a temporary situation.”
Clark said he wasn’t at the Jan. 14 meeting, but after the meeting the individual reached out to Clark and said he was no longer involved. Citizens also reached out to Clark about SSYB running baseball during the season, he said. Clark attempted to contact SSYB asking to meet with them before the meeting on the 19th but received no response.
It was decided that Clark would go to the meeting to talk to representatives of SSYB because its lease was coming to an end and the city has not heard from anybody, Clark said.
After deflecting questions that Clark didn’t think were relevant to the city he threw out his proposal of the Boys and Girls Club taking over youth baseball subject to the approval of the board of directors, he said.
Clark said he received several emails from citizens and told them that, rather than respond to emails, he suggested they could meet in person.
Clark met with the people who had emailed him and everyone appeared to be on the same page and they proceeded down this path, he said.
PUBLIC COMMENT AND THE VOTE
Several citizens spoke in favor of the Boys and Girls Club. Kathleen Dziedzic, one of the citizens who spoke said she came to Siloam Springs in 2016 and became involved with SSYB as well as the frustration of getting people to volunteer to help.
“It breaks my heart that people don’t want to step up like I did in a brand new community and run this league,” Dziedzic said.
Dziedzic also said she was afraid that the Boys and Girls Club would permanently replace the SSYB as the coordinators of youth baseball and that All-Star, Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken teams would not be available through the Boys and Girls Club.
Allen and Blair picked up on this and asked the Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Chris Shimer about the matter. Shimer said the Boys and Girls Club did charter Cal Ripken and All-Star tournaments
but no other youth baseball program in Northwest Arkansas does.
“If we have All-Star teams, they have to travel to South Arkansas,” Shimer said. “… there have been ongoing discussions about … what can we do to get to help get our kids competitive in those areas?”
Most programs in Northwest Arkansas are participating in United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), often referred to as UTrip, another youth baseball league, Shimer said. Director Ken Wiles asked if Shimer was planning on chartering with USSSA.
Shimer said the Boys and Girls Club has looked into what it would take to charter with USSSA. Wiles said he did not have a problem with the Boys and Girls Club taking over youth baseball because it’s all about the kids, but Wiles also said he still had a glimmer of hope that SSYB could pull it off.
Following more discussion the board voted to approve the contract with the Boys and Girls Club.
The city board also approved and heard the following items:
• Workshop minutes for the Jan. 17 workshop.
• Dedication of utility easements and right-of-way for 22384 Davidson Rd.
• Dedication of utility easements and right-of-way for 3001 Waukesha Rd.
• Dedication of utility easements for 1510 E. Main St.
• Resolution 06-23 regarding a special use development permit for 413 South Madison St.
• Resolution 07-23 concerning a special use development. permit for 731 East Cypress Court.
• Resolution 08-23 regarding a special use development permit for 617 S. Maxwell St.
• Regular meeting minutes for the Jan. 17 city board meeting.
CONTRACTS AND APPROVALS
• Resolution 04-23 and budget amendment in the amount of $10,839 for David Bailey to continue serving as prosecuting attorney for the city.
• Purchase of a 2023 John Deere 85G Excavator from Stribling Equipment in the amount of $140,891.
• Placing Ordinance 23-02 regarding the vacation of a drainage easement for the 500 block of Highway 412 West on its second and third reading and then taking a separate vote to approve the ordinance.
• Resolution 09-23 concerning significant development permit for 1993 East Highway 412.
• Resolution 10-23 regarding a preliminary plat development permit for the 3000 block of East Kenwood Street.
• Resolution 11-23 concerning a carbon reduction program grant application from the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission for the Elgin Street Sidewalk Extension.
• December 2022 financials
• Fourth Quarter 2022 board goals update.
• Administrator’s report.