The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

April 18, 2013

Group wishing to save Memorial Field protests at Geneva BOE meeting

GENEVA — Any use isn’t the plan for Memorial Field anymore, as the local group lobbying to save the field now have specific requests of the Geneva Board of Education.

The group, led by Lisa Delgado, held signs in protest at the board of education meeting Wednesday evening at Geneva Middle School, asking the administration to leave the fire-damaged grandstands and visitor’s bleachers for renovation instead of demolition.

Geneva Councilman Mike Schupska was in the audience.

“We need the stands,” he said. “We, as a group here tonight, are willing to raise money to help fix the grandstands. You need to negotiate with the city and come up with something to save this field. We want to save it just the way it is.”

The board of education has been in talks with the city “for years,” board president David Foote said, about the future of Memorial Field on Eastwood Street, where the Geneva Eagles played football and ran track since the 1940’s until moving competitive athletics and practice to Spire Institute. The grandstands were damaged by arson a year ago.

The citizen’s group originally hoped to save the field “for any public use,” even organizing an online petition to make their voices heard. Now, Delgado said, they want to preserve the field as-is for band practices, scrimmage games and the Geneva Midget Football League.

She also insisted the school district offer the city insurance money gained from the fire.

Geneva resident Jason Palmer had a far less emotional argument for the field.

“I’m just saying, what is the school going to do if Spire takes off and doesn’t let us play there?” he said. “What will we do for a football field if Spire gets busy?”

Foote said he understands the emotional attachment to the field and grandstands, but said three consultants have deemed the damaged grandstands unsafe. He also said it would cost $400,000 to restore the grandstand.

“We believe (Memorial Field) has use to the public and we have been working with the city since the fire,” he said. “We just ask you to allow us to continue those talks with the city. Be patient with us.”

City of Geneva officials have not commented on the possible future use for the field.

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