Players rally for new field in Coventry

·3 min read

Jun. 22—COVENTRY — More than a dozen girls from Coventry's Girls Softball League waved signs outside the window of the Town Hall Annex Monday night where council members continued discussions on where is best to build a dedicated softball field.

Discussions on the matter have been going on for years, with no solution in sight, league members say.

SOFTBALL FIELD GOES WHERE?

WHAT: The Coventry Girls Softball League continues their fight to get a dedicated field of their own.

WHY: Recreation baseball and other sports have their own field, and the local girls' softball league does not.

NEXT: Discussion continues at Town Council level.

"We've been led down paths that take us to dead ends and get our hopes up," said Jennifer Rodgers, league vice president, a member of the town's Softball Field Study Committee, and a local middle school softball coach.

"It's not fair that softball doesn't have a dedicated field, but baseball does — and every other sport," Aliza Sobol, 10, said Monday of the Recreation Department-sponsored team. "It feels like they don't really think of us very much and they more think that baseball, football, and all the other sports are more important."

According to town officials, the council previously supported a site near the Water Pollution Control Authority, but the committee abandoned the idea after additional information surfaced about poor air quality from a town septic system.

The council is now considering two locations: the gravel pits located at Plains Road and near the Miller Richardson baseball fields, and also the Miller Richardson football field area at the landfill.

Rodgers says she is pushing for the gravel pit location for several reasons, including a methane leak from the landfill, and the likelihood that a football league could return to town.

While the town has received a $128,000 Small Town Economic Assistance Program, or STEAP, state grant to hire engineers to fix the landfill leak, the town is now investigating to see if the football team is a true recreation department league team, which would likely impact the location for the softball field there, Town Council Chairman Matthew O'Brien, Sr. said today.

Rodgers expressed frustration over why the football field was being considered when there are other viable options.

Town officials say the gravel pit is used for storage by Public Works.

In a side-by-side comparison of the two locations, Town Manager John Elsesser, highlighted positive and negative issues for both sites.

Rodgers described the comparison as "very heavily biased towards the football field."

The softball league currently shares the school ball fields, and therefore, they cannot have banners or sponsorships buy ads to place in the area.

"And that's how we sustain our costs down to our families," Rodgers said. "We work our tails off having golf tournaments, selling T-shirts, ... it takes lots of work when the boys can just sell sponsorships and hotdogs."

Other issues with sharing are that the fields can't be used if school is cancelled, and school sports take priority. Rodgers described times the league would be playing and had to stop their game to give up the field for school varsity teams.

"At the end of the day we need our own dedicated fields and that's what we've been fighting for," Rodgers said, adding that it's not just about a community field, it's about equal rights.

"Girls don't have the same things as the boys do," Rodgers said.

The discussion will be continued at a future council meeting, town officials said.

"It was great to see all the young residents of Coventry out there making their voices heard and being part of the process," Councilman Jonathan Hand said today.

For updates on the towns of Coventry and Tolland, follow Michelle France on Twitter: @MFranceReport, Facebook: Michelle France, and Instagram: @MFranceReport.

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