School district not interested in borough's softball lease offer

Sep. 19—Residents near a proposed new softball field in Ellwood City are heavily against its location, while school district officials are unlikely to budge.

During Thursday's Ellwood City Area School Board meeting, around 15 residents from Beatty Street, Wood Street and Adams Avenue expressed disapproval of the proposed softball field.

That proposal is to use a capital campaign to raise funds to build a new softball field on the 2.8 acres of district property that was the site of the former Ewing Park Elementary School. Bill Nardone, the general manager of the Ellwood Group and a member of the Ellwood City Economic Development Authority, has been tasked to lead the campaign.

He is seeking to raise $1,880,000 for the new softball field and $1,449,000 to make renovations to the existing baseball field on Joffre Street. The district wants to build a softball field near Ewing Park to have all of its outdoor sports played in one general area.

Resident Herman Petti questioned why the district wants to build a field in a heavily residential area instead of using the funding to renovate the existing borough-owned field at R.C. Stiefel Park.

Petti said there are more cons than pros to the new field.

"Most of the people that live on Wood and Beatty are elderly. They go to bed early," said resident Emily DeNome.

"They don't need lights."

Resident Patty Clout said she and many of her neighbors have concerns over safety, damages to houses and property, traffic, parking and a decrease in property values.

"Home plate would be approximately 40 steps from my yard," Clout said. "There's just not enough room."

Clout feels the district should work with the borough to renovate Stiefel Park then subdivide and sell the 2.8-acre property for housing or other developments.

Following the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Wesley Shipley said board members previously met with borough council.

"They did offer a 30-year lease for $1 with an opportunity to renew," Shipley said. "We appreciate the offer, but this doesn't help us reach our goal to bring our softball team closer to our athletic complex, nor are we interested in putting significant resources into a field we do not own."