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Striking Out in Cooperstown: Finding home for youth baseball

By JASON POWLES

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (WKTV) - Cooperstown is considered to be the home of baseball, yet there has been controversy as to where they should put their Youth Baseball League, which may ultimately not even end up in the confines of the village.

The Gateway is a new parking lot and thoroughfare built on what was once the CYB's home baseball field. In 2006, it was decided by the village that they needed to beautify the southern approach on Route 28 leading into the village to make it easier for people to get in and out during the tourist season. In order to do that, they had to move the field.

Mayor Jeff Katz says the field was moved to a slightly different location to accommodate the changes. However, there was a problem with the move.

Michelle Dibble, President of the CYB, says that the soil was contaminated. "They (the village board) wouldn't guarantee us the field, its unstable so we were afraid of sinkholes. There were things they were unwilling to help us out with," she said.

Mayor Katz has a different story. Katz said, "We sat to negotiate the lease. Modify it. Literally the next thing we saw in the newspaper was that the CYB was going to move from their previous spot in the village."

CYB approached Jane Clark of the Clark Foundation. A piece of land near the Clark Sports Center on Brooklyn Avenue seemed to be the right spot. However, the residents of the area voiced concerns with the village board. As a result of back and forth meetings, the CYB decided they would have to find another area to play games. They felt they were not given viable places to play in the village. Mayor Katz says the CYB was never denied the right to play in the village.

The CYB is currently building a new field in the Town of Hartwick. It will be ready to play on by opening day next spring with a full working concession stand.

Mayor Katz though is disappointed that the league is not playing in the village. Katz said, "We followed the process that we felt was most fair and legally sound again, never thinking that they would leave and never wanted them to leave."

In the meantime, the CYB will play games this season on various fields until their new field is ready for the 2014 season.

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