By Rosemary K. Otzman
Now that Van Buren Township has a 99-year lease with EQ/Wayne Disposal for the Beck Road ball fields, it was able to in turn sub-lease the fields to Van Buren Area Little League and Michigan Nationals.
At its Jan. 14 meeting the VBT Board of Trustees unanimously approved five-year agreements with the two organizations, effective Jan. 1, 2014.
The agreements state that during the times when the Little League is not using the fields, the Michigan Nationals can use them.
Marc Littleson, president of the Van Buren Area Little League, and Ryan Taylor, of the Michigan Nationals, were present at the meeting to tell of their plans.
Littleson said Little League is celebrating its 75th year in operation and Belleville has had Little League for 57 of those years, so this is nothing new.
Little League has been using the Beck Fields for many years, but a problem developed with one group and the national Little League hooked up with VBALL instead this year.
Littleson has been a Little League volunteer for seven years and recently became leader of VBALL.
Taylor, who is a State Farm insurance agent in downtown Belleville, told the story of the youth organization for travel baseball that he started four years ago. He said there now are 16 to 18 teams based out of the Belleville area, with young folks even coming from Ypsilanti and Canton to participate.
He said they have leased fields all over and are very happy now to have local fields to use.
Taylor started the Michigan Nationals Sports Center inside Davenport Center on the south side of Belleville almost two years ago. He said they have 12,000 to 13,000 square feet of space that they use as an inside ball field. The field also is used for soccer and lacrosse. He said Belleville High School baseball and lacrosse players use the field, as well as lacrosse players from Ypsilanti Lincoln.
The inside space also is available for birthday parties, he said.
Supervisor Linda Combs, who worked at getting the lease with EQ/Wayne Disposal and worked out the details of the use of the fields by a revamped Little League and the new Michigan Nationals, was happy it all worked out.
“If they’re playing ball, they’re not getting into trouble,” she said of the youth at Beck Fields.
She said she appreciated that Littleson stepped up to lead the youngsters.
Taylor said his group has had just male teams in the past, but they are developing an all-female travel softball team called the Michigan National Stars, which will be based in Belleville.
Supervisor Combs said the Little League will take priority at the Beck Fields and Taylor has offered to provide some equipment to help the Little League players.
Littleson said the Detroit Tigers has grants for protective equipment for the kids and he is applying.
In other business at the Jan. 14 meeting, the board:
• Held public hearings on the use of about $125,000 in 2014-15 federal Community Development Block Grant funds and the reprogramming of $83,474 the 2011 CDBG funds from sidewalks along Belleville Road to upgrades to the Beck Road ball fields;
• Approved the reprogramming of the 2011 CDBG funds to Beck Field so they wouldn’t be lost;
• Approved revocation of the General Electric Industrial Facilities (Tax) Exemption Certificate at 41965 Ecorse Road as requested by GE because its plans for the facility have changed and it can’t comply with the agreement. This will bring in $13,744 more in Public Safety taxes and $3,142 more to the general township budget;
• Approved to extend without penalty the collection of the 2013 winter property taxes through Friday, Feb. 28;
• Approved a resolution adopting standards less restrictive than federal poverty standards for the Board of Review Poverty Exemption Guidelines for 2014;
• Approved the supervisor’s reappointments of Vera Ireland, Mary Korgal, Stephanie Soja, Margaret Thompson, and Helen Wylie to the September Days Senior Center Endowment Committee with terms to expire Jan. 15, 2016;
• Heard John Delaney say the Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA) meeting was cancelled again on Jan. 13 because of “no agenda.” He said the attendance policy and the meeting policy were supposed to be on the January agenda and there are many things to talk about. Supervisor Combs said they will be revising the bylaws of the LDFA and will be enforcing the bylaws on the attendance policy. She said several meetings were cancelled for lack of agenda before she was elected and changes don’t happen overnight. Combs said once the situation with Visteon is remedied she believes the LDFA could be dissolved. Trustee Jeff Jahr, an attorney, wasn’t so sure about that. He said the township needs to emphasize the space available for development in the Grace Lake area and, “I don’t think we’re doing a very good job in helping to market this area … This township has to help get development;
• Learned Harold Belanger, husband of Supervisor Combs’ secretary Cindy Belanger, will be honored at a memorial service at 1 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Belleville High School cafeteria. Mr. Belanger had been involved with Van Buren Little League; and
• Heard Natalie Mosher introduce herself. She is a Democratic candidate for the 21st State House District, to replace Dian Slaves, who is term limited and running for State Senate.
By Rosemary K. Otzman