The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

April 20, 2012

Geneva woman looks to help Memorial Field

GENEVA —  The fire at Memorial Field has created a spark in Lisa Pucci-Delgado.

A Geneva High School graduate, Pucci-Delgado is fed up with the tall grass, poor turf and overall poor state of the old high school football field and track, she said.

“From being covered head to toe in mud from the field, to band practice, to the concession stand, to watching the homecoming game, practically everyone has a memory of Memorial Field. There are so many things that we remember that warm our hearts and souls and now these memories are fading,” she said.

Pucci-Delgado asked Geneva Board of Education members to consider the public when they consider the fate of Memorial Field.

A fire damaged the bleachers and the storage area under them in March, causing $175,000 in damage. Three male juveniles face charges for their involvement in the blaze, Police Chief Daniel Dudik said.

Pucci-Delgado said the problems at Memorial Field, including tall grass, the damaged track, and poor playing turf, are long-standing.

“There are people who are willing to put in their time, volunteer to write grants, volunteer to do a lot of things to bring the field back up to par,” she said. “We need the board to tell us what we need to do to get it back into use again.”

The school district leases the field to the Spire Institute for $20,000 a year, and holds the lease for another three years, school board member Ford Behm said. The Geneva Midget Football League uses the field, and some Geneva sports teams, which now play at the Spire Institute, use the field and track for practice.

Memorial Field opened its gates in 1941 and served as the main football field for Geneva Schools before the school district contracted with Spire Institute for the use of the complex’s sports facilities.

Behm called the lease of property to Spire, “a partnership.”

“We entered into a five-year lease agreement two years ago to utilize Spire facilities for football and track for $20,000 per year. That is the same amount we would pay to maintain Memorial Field,” he said. “We have also been able to use Spire facilities for soccer games and graduation, all at no charge.”

Behm said while Spire is responsible for the maintenance of the field, floods have ravaged the area and caused even more problems.

“We have had two or three floods at Memorial Field, so we did receive a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), so I really can’t answer any questions about repairs today. As to what we are going to do (with the field), I just can’t answer that,” he said.

Pucci-Delgado said she just hopes the community will be permitted to help with — and use — their old stomping grounds.

“A lot of people have great memories there. The field is part of our community,” she said. “We can restore it and use it, let the kids use it. Right now it is hard for the midget league to use it because it is not kept up like it was supposed to be.”

The uses for the space are endless, she said.

“The turf is kind of bad and older people have trouble walking the field, but with some remediation and some work, people could use the walking track. We could hold community events there,” she said.

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