Two Brooks Street parents attended the April 10 Facilities and Operation committee meeting in order to bring light to a pressing concern.
“In our yards is a collection of lacrosse balls,” Regina Pagano, a Brooks Street resident, said.
Prior to the meeting, Pagano, along with her next-door neighbor Kate Hess, described how their respective residence, located directly across the street from the former Cold Spring Elementary School site, has recently been under the continual bombardment from lacrosse balls.
“They practice every day, and the only times they weren’t there, would be the times they are at away games,” Pagano said.
She is referring to the Boys Lacrosse team, whose practice and home-playing field is located behind the high school stadium, and runs perpendicular to Broorks Street.
Pagano said, during games and practices, lacrosse balls can often be heard bouncing off their properties, and sometimes off their glass windows. In order to demonstrate to the committee the severity of the issue, Pagano and Hess brought in a small sampling of collected balls, numbering to about 10 each since the season began shortly after winter break.
“Two were collected just today,” Pagano said, referencing the April 10 match.
She adds that she and her neighbors often have to park their cars in their garages to avoid contact with the hard, rubber balls, which may also prove to be a safety concern for their families.
“I played in college and high school and got hit a lot,” Hess said. “It becomes a safety issue.”
Both Hess and Pagano have toddler-age children. According to some former lacrosse players, the playing ball may travel speeds between 90 – 100 miles an hour.
“We complained last year, and made a lot of phone calls,” Hess said.
However, she said that most of her requests for assistance were directed toward the district’s athletic director, Rich Gould, but said that they were never able to connect last year.
“Facilities looked at it, the Athletic Department looked at it, and the township looked at it,” Harry Protzman, school district’s facilities manager, said during the committee meeting. “One of the problems that we ran into was that we couldn’t add anything to the existing fence line, because there are height limitations.”
According to Protzman, the boys Lacrosse playing field sits on top a plateau.
While there is an existing fence line, since the field sits at an elevated height, the current fence does little to stop wayward balls.
In fact, the same scenario also occurs during soccer season, although not to the potential extent of damage or bodily harm that lacrosse balls could create.
Protzman suggested that a new chain-link fence, 40-feet-wide by 15-feet-high, be installed.
He explained that unlike rope netting, the chain-link fence would be strong enough to keep any playing balls at bay, as well as resistant to weather conditions and vandalism.
He informed the board that pricing is currently underway for the suggested fence.
In response, school board member Duval Dougherty asked if there was another cheaper alternative.
Several alternatives were explored, but would either prove to be difficult or impossible, including moving to another district field that's not already in use.
“We’re limited to what can be done at the high school,” Mark Wenik, vice-president of the school board, said. “My concern is that someone is going to get hurt, break a window, hit a car. I realize we can’t make a decision tonight, but I just want to make sure that we are open to all options.”
Dr. Robert Milrod, district superintendent also suggested moving the boys lacrosse to the football stadium. Protzman pointed out that track students would be using that field, but could work, if the athletic director would arrange it.
Milrod then directed Protzman and Mike Braun, the district’s business manager, to work with the athletic director and have three viable options ready for board review by Friday of this week. The options would include a potential new fence and relocation.
“We need to move quickly on this,” Milrod said.
“I really want to solve your problems instantaneously,” Mike Braun, district business manager, said, addressing the Brooks Street residents. “To stop the balls from shooting onto your properties is our goal.”