“One issue that came up at our last board meeting was something that came up at your last council meeting,” said the Board of Parks and Recreation Chairman Kelly Mire. “It was the issue of Coach [Donnie] Perry and the field usage fee.”
During a council meeting, which took place on Sept. 7, the council approved a motion to allow Perry to pay a one-time usage fee of $50 for the entire season.
“There was a woman in the audience during our last meeting and she was wondering why she had to pay $100 for the entire weekend when he did not,” Mire said.
Mire said he thinks the parks and recreation board should have been consulted about this change.
“The board worked on these field usage fees for a little over two years, trying to get all of this together and being fair for everybody across the board,” Mire said. “We tried to create an even playing field for those who just hold tournaments on the weekend and this and that. A lot of hours went into it.”
Mire questioned why the council allowed Perry to pay $50 for the entire season, whereas others would still have to pay $50 per day to use the field.
“I, as the chairman, would like to know what was the reasoning for the $50 for the whole time he’s going to use the field, rather than everyone else who has to pay what we already set, which all of you have already approved at a previous council meeting,” Mire said.
“Firstly, we have the discretion to change anything we put into place,” answered Councilman Francis Touchet. “Secondly, we’ve already let Lighthouse for Jesus use the field for free.”
Touchet used the reasoning because, this precedent already existed, that Perry did not have to pay the entire usage fee. He said it would especially apply because Perry was just holding practices, not tournaments at the field.
“I think that needs to be clarified,” said Mayor Mark Piazza. “All the other organizations that are paying a usage fee play there; they make money there. This particular gentlemen does not play there. He only asks to practice on this field. There really isn’t a clear definition on this in the usage fee.”
Parks and Recreation Director Jason O’Brien said Badon Field is available for those who just want to practice with no charge. The fields, however, need to be scheduled through O’Brien.
“Technically, they’d have to go through me first,” he said. “If somebody already called and asked to reserve the field, then I have to let them use the field first. They wouldn’t have to go through a field usage process, but they would just need to check with me first because somebody might have already asked to used it.”
Piazza said he thinks the board should be included in future decisions.
“We can’t turn back the clock,” Piazza said, “but from now on we’ll keep y’all in the loop because you’re doing a good job. We’ve got a well-organized board now. In the future with issues like these, we’ll go to the board first and let y’all make a recommendation to the council.”
Council man Francis Plaisance said he agreed with Piazza and that the council should be consistent with their decisions in the future.
Although not related to this incident, Mire also announced his resignation to the council at Tuesday’s meeting.