“Our field was meant for the public and it was meant to stay that way,” Branford said. “Judge Mallone donated the field with that understanding.”
School treasurer Kevin Lillie said district documents show no such transaction or covenant related to Memorial Field.
“We have gone back through the documents as far as we can, and I can say that each piece of land was purchased from the parcels surrounding Memorial Field. Memorial Field did not come from any one land owner,” he said.
Other rumors declare the Veterans of Foreign Wars as the original owner — and donor — of the property, with the same false limitations on the continuation of ownership.
“It just isn’t true,” Lillie said, “but it certainly makes the story interesting.”
Foote said the field will be remediated into a non-sports facility. Insurance money paid by two insurance claims — $162,000 for the district’s policy and $135,000 for Spire’s policy — is banked in the district’s permanent improvement fund, Lillie said, for use in the remediation.
But the sports heritage of Memorial Field will remain in the shadow of the Geneva Eagles’ original score board. The board, which dates back to the 1940s, was a nightmare for maintenance workers to fix and will stay at Memorial Field even after the grandstand and visitor’s bleachers are gone, said Ed Leitch, the district’s director of transportation and maintenance.
“They don’t even make parts for it anymore,” he said. “It doesn’t work. The last time we fixed it, I had to drive into Cleveland to get a used part because there are no more new parts for it. But it’s a part of the history of the field, and people see it as a landmark, so it will stay up.”