By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
POLAND -- Over the objections of a Firemen's Field Board member, village council voted 5-1 to enact an ordinance declaring that board an advisory panel and requiring that all board members be village residents or property owners.
The ordinance passed Tuesday as an emergency measure with Councilman Robert Limmer dissenting. Normally ordinances get three readings before they pass.
The village-owned, three-acre recreational field, containing a baseball diamond, volleyball and boccie courts, a swing set and a picnic pavilion, is on Riverside Drive at the village limits. The Poland Firemen's Association deeded the field over to the village in 1964.
"If something were to happen, the ultimate responsibility lies with council," said Councilman Al Lind, adding that, by specifying the board's advisory role, the ordinance clarifies "the correct line of authority." Because village residents and property owners pay taxes to support the field, they should have the opportunity to sit on the board, he said.
"It's strictly a matter of semantics and accuracy. If we didn't want to listen to you, you wouldn't exist," Councilman William L. Dunnavant told Dru Marchese, a member of the Firemen's Field Board.
One reaction: Characterizing council's action as a political move, Marchese said she feels insulted by the ordinance because she and others have generously given their time to improve the field.
"It's a wonderful project. All of us on the board and the [Firemen's Field] foundation have hauled block. We've laid footers. My husband [Fred] built the pavilion. I worked with convicts to put in the swing set. It's been the most wonderful community effort that's gone into this field. Politics has no business at this field," she said.
She also objected to the residency requirement, which removes from the board Cloy Stewart, who lives in Poland Township, but not in the village, and who established the field in 1952. Marchese also questioned the need for passage of the ordinance as an emergency item.
About ordinance: The ordinance says the mayor will appoint six of the seven board members with council's consent, with the seventh being the chairperson of council's buildings, lands, utilities, parks and recreation committee.
Limmer said he objected to the ordinance because he thought the residency rule is inappropriate. At the very least, Stewart should be grandfathered in for the rest of his term on the board, he added.
Limmer also said that, in fairness, if changes are being made concerning the Firemen's Field Board, similar changes should be enacted simultaneously concerning the Poland Municipal Forest Board, which performs a similar function at the forest.