Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Fixing Some of Wellfield's Problems

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Fixing Some of Wellfield's Problems

Article excerpt

When it comes to conditions at the Venice Wellfield sports complex, things could be worse, but they could also be better, a lot better. Meanwhile, the demands on the 80 acres of fields continue to rise.

That was the gist of the discussion Wednesday morning among Venice City Council, Sarasota Parks and Recreation staff and the five sports organizations, representing close to 2,000 children and adults, who use the fields.

Wellfield's shortcomings made the news after Venice Mayor John Holic and County Commission Chairwoman Christine Robinson noticed shoddy maintenance and poor conditions during opening day ceremonies for Miss Venice Fast Pitch.

Holic convened Wednesday's gathering to hear directly from all the users and to plot some sort of plan for improvements. The county took part because although the city of Venice owns the property, the county maintains it.

The complaints are nothing new.

From Steven Constantino of Miss Venice: "The only time the trees were trimmed in the last five years, my guys did it." Fortunately, Constantino owns a landscape maintenance business. Other communities, he noted, seem to take more pride in their youth sports facilities. In Auburndale, Bartow and Sebring? "They're palatial compared with ours," he said.

From Todd Kerkering of Venice Little League, referring to Field 3: "If you go by the place after a medium-sized rain, it looks like a lake."

From Jay Thinnes of Venice Vikings/Pop Warner Football, who played at the Wellfield as a child: "To be honest with you, it's an embarrassment."

Anyone who has been around youth sports knows that parents are notorious complainers, and usually the ones who complain the most know and help the least. That's not true of these volunteers, however. As Kerkering joked, his wife had to join the Little League board so she could see him more during season.

The leagues -- and the volunteers, parents and children in them - - also pay to play. …

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