The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

June 21, 2013

Demolition of grandstands begins at Geneva's Memorial Field

BOE says property will be remediated for use by public

GENEVA — Plans to remediate the grounds at Memorial Field began Thursday with the partial demolition of the home grandstand, despite a small group of vocal residents determined to keep the field just as it has always been.

The City of Geneva issued a demolition permit for both the home grandstands and the tall, metal guest bleachers, Geneva Councilman Mike Schupska confirmed, and the Geneva Board of Education wasted no time in the removal of debris and materials from the property on Eastwood Street.

In February, the board of education announced the intention to demolish the grandstands, visitor’s bleachers and pressbox at Memorial Field. The board also announced the intention to gather bids for the demolition and plans to keep the old scoreboard as “a landmark,” BOE president David Foote said.

A small group of residents, led by Geneva High School graduate Lisa Pucci-Delgado, initially asked the board to retain ownership of the field or give the field to the city “for any public use.” That demand evolved, though, as the board agreed to use the property to benefit Geneva citizens, but made plans to change the topography of the field through demolition of structures and the remediation of the marshiest parts of the field.

Delgado, who started on online petition to save the field, said she is fed up with not being heard by her school representatives.

“They should listen to their community and do what is right,” she said.

Foote said the board of education’s goal is still to return the field to public use.

“Unfortunately for our community, access to Memorial Field has not been afforded for too long,” he said. “Sadly, as we all know, the home stands at Memorial Field fell victim to vandalism creating several safety issues for community use. Hearing the public outcry the board has been fervently working to see public use of Memorial Field realized once again.”

No matter the reasons, at least one anonymous but clearly upset resident has started the Facebook page “Recall the Geneva Board of Education.”

The page had 44 “likes” as of Thursday afternoon.

Resident Sandy Menor said she has had it with politics.

“The board of education has finally succeeded in the destruction of Memorial Field and the citizens need to seek replacement of this board that ignored our petitions and presence at meetings. The board is out of touch with the community and several did not attend Geneva schools and don't realize the importance to the people who have their roots in this community,” Menor said.

Foote said it is not financially possible for the district to restore the field to use as an athletic facility, and the burned out stands are a major liability issue for the district and the city.

“Discussions have taken place regarding the feasibility of repairing the bleachers, only to determine the cost factor is not in the best interest of the taxpayers or the district,” he said. “Also, discussions have taken place with several stake holders such as the City of Geneva, Little League Football and Youth Soccer programs regarding best use of the field and stands. For the safety of the community and best use of the field it was determined necessary to remediate the liability of the damaged stands.”

While Delgado and her group questioned the legality of the demolition, Foote said action by the board was taken in public meetings when necessary.

“Estimates were obtained by the school officials, and for an amount that does not require a vote of the board,” he said.

Foote calls for a “rebirth” for the field, and said the board is not looking to sell the property or utilize it for any other reason than community use.

“Demolition of the stands is in process so our community can move forward from the tragedy of the vandalism and come up with suitable solutions for future use,” he said. “The district and school board encourage the community to work together to see the rebirth of Memorial Field.”

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