Lott coaches air uniform concerns

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Dr. A.L. Lott Little League Baseball program coaches and MayorBob Massengill planned to meet Wednesday with city recreationdepartment officials regarding coaches’ and parents’ concerns abouta lack of uniforms for program participants this year.

Before an overflow audience at last night’s city board meeting,coaches aired complaints about a Brookhaven Parks Commission voteto not purchase uniforms for players in the program this year.

Coach Dwayne Gayten cited comments from Recreation DepartmentDirector Terry Reid, who was not present last night, that 42 of 104players did not pay the $30 registration fee to participate. Gaytensaid it was not fair to other players to not get a uniform becausesome did not pay.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“Why do they have to suffer and not get a uniform?,” Gaytensaid.

Massengill pointed out the city board of aldermen does not haveany direct control over what the parks commission does. Commissionmembers are appointed by the board of aldermen and recreationbudget is approved, but how funds are spent and operationaldecisions are made by the commission.

Coaches said they had been to commission meetings and had beenunsuccessful. Initially, Massengill committed to meet with coachesand recreation officials to try and work out problems before nextyear’s season.

“We want kids to participate, we want them to have uniforms andwe want them to learn not only baseball, but sportsmanship,”Massengill said.

The discussion then turned to past disputes and problemsinvolving the baseball program and the recreation department. WardTwo Alderman Terry Bates said the lack of uniforms is a “sadoccasion.”

“Every year, we have something occur,” said Bates, mentioningthe closing of the swimming pools and other issues.

Bates said the current setup between aldermen and the parkscommission, which was designed to keep politics out of therecreation area, is not working.

“We have a problem,” Bates said. “We don’t have a voice. I thinkwe should have.”

Coach McNair Smith said participation in the Lott program hasdeclined from over 300 four years ago to just over 100 now. Citingexpenditures from other city recreational activities, he said itwould have cost over $3,200 to buy uniforms for the 104 kids thisyear.

“We cannot continue to make excuses that are without merit,”said Smith, who did not mention any specific examples.

Coaches mentioned past year problems involving the Lott complexfield, broken equipment and the small amount of money that wasallotted for buying trophies. Massengill agreed to meet today withReid and a group of coaches to discuss the uniform situation.

“We’re going to find a way to make this situation better,” themayor said.

With that agreement in sight, Coach Darryl White took the podiumto recount problems and cast doubt on the results of meeting withReid. He urged aldermen to make new appointments to the parkscommission.

“That board does not have these kids’ best interests at hand,”White said.

Massengill confirmed the coaches’ desire to meet with Reid andthen ended the discussion. The recreation matter remained a topicof discussion later following the meeting’s conclusion.

Alderman at large Les Bumgarner said he supported the parkscommission vote. He said he feels the panel had to have a goodreason for its vote.

“That’s the crux of the matter,” Bumgarner said.