The Mohawk village board had no problem Monday with a request from the Mohawk American Youth Soccer Organization to have its youngest soccer players use Weller Park.
The board wanted more time to consider a request from the Central Valley school district to use the park for spillover space for its athletic team practices, however.
Melissa Burns was on hand for Monday's regular meeting to ask if the beginning soccer players could use the park. Mohawk's AYSO teams normally use the Casey-Warren soccer fields, near state Route 5S, but those fields were damaged in the late June flooding and will not be ready to use this fall. Burns said the older players would be using fields at Herkimer County Community College for their games. She said other fields had been offered, but it would be easier for the referees if the games were all played in one location. That is not an issue for the youngest teams; the coaches themselves serve as referees for those games.
Mayor Jim Baron said the younger children wouldn't cause any real damage to the park and he had no problem with their using it.
Burns said she planned to approach the library commission with the request, but the commission won't meet until next week so she brought her request to the village board first.
Jim Humphrey, athletic director for the new Central Valley Central School District, also asked about the possibility of using the park as a spillover practice site in case all of the fields are in use. For example, a girls' modified team might be sent to the park to practice for an hour and a half two afternoons a week. He said the district is hoping to have the middle school athletic teams use the fields in Mohawk and avoid having to bus players to fields in Ilion or simply send them home.
"There is plenty of field space," he said of the new merged district. "It's a transportation issue." He noted the district would not receive state aid to transport students for athletics.
Humphrey said he has been in touch with AYSO and Pop Warner officials from Mohawk and said he would be working with them to coordinate use of the fields.
He presented the board with a copy of a contract the district has with the village of Ilion for the use of fields there.
"Our head of building and grounds could maintain the park and seed it at the end of the season," said Humphrey.
Board members said they had not been satisfied with the repair and reseeding jobs that were done previously after athletes used the park.
Trustee Matthew Watkins said he would be willing to see the district use the park as described for a year.
Page 2 of 2 - Baron expressed misgivings however.
"I have a hard time sacrificing village space for the convenience of the school," he said. "I don't want a situation where the AYSO kids or even someone wanting to walk his dog are pushed aside."
"Prior to the flood, we had planned to develop Tory Creek Field and hoped to have it ready for this fall," said Trustee George Cryer.
That site, located near the Little League baseball field, is currently being used as a staging area as flood clean-up work continues.
Board members asked how many teams the new district would be fielding. Humphrey said there will be a dozen teams, including junior varsity teams which neither Mohawk nor Ilion had last year. Some 300 students have signed up for the various teams.
Varsity practices will begin Aug. 19 with modified sports set to start Aug. 26.
The mayor asked for more time to consider the request.