LAA will retain Linden Athletic Field

Published 10:54 am Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The latest attempt by Linden City Schools to convince the city council to take control of Linden Athletic Field fell flat Tuesday.

Speaking on behalf of a delegation that included most of the Linden City Schools Board of Education, LCS Superintendent Dr. Tyrone Smith and other supporters, LCS board member William Curry handed each member of the city council a copy letter that had originally been sent Sept. 2.

“The request that you made is not anything that we can act on,” Linden Mayor Mitzi Gates flatly responded after receiving the letter.

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Curry’s handout included Linden City Schools’ plea that the city take over management of Linden Athletic Field, a facility that has been owned and operated by the Linden Athletic Association since 1976.

City attorney Woody Dinning proceeded to explain the situation to Curry and the delegation present, noting that the property is owned by the LAA and the only power the city possesses in the matter lies in a reversionary clause that would allow the city to take over the field should the LAA choose to sell it.

“Being a reversionary cluse gives us no authority to initiate or precipitate that,” Dinning said.

Moments later, Dinning provided poignant commentary on a nearly two-month long saga that has led to the separation of the Linden High School football team and its typical home stadium.

In the weeks since the situation came to a head, leading the Linden BOE to authorize its high school team to play its home games at Marengo High School in Dixon’s Mills, numerous complaints involving decor of the field have been tossed about. Among those complaints include dissatisfaction on the part of many Linden High supporters regarding signs posted at LAF in support of the Longhorns and what they interpret as a cattle gate that shows favoritism toward Marengo Academy — the field’s other inhabitant — over Linden High.

“This is supposed to be about a football field and about a bunch of kids playing football,” Dinning said. “Has anybody asked these 14 to 18-year-old kids if they care where they play football or if they care what kind of fence is around it? I have a 14-year-old son and all he cares about is what is between the sidelines and the what is between the goal posts.”

The city became involved in the situation in August when it offered to give money to Linden High School to help it offset an elevated usage fee for the field.

The Linden BOE voted Thursday, Sept. 1 to move Patriot home games from the field and followed that decision with the elction to ask the city to take over the field.

Dinning explained that the city would only be able to discuss such a venture if approached by the Linden Athletic Association with a formal proposal.

“We can help the city school system with money, but that is all we had the power to do,” Dinning said.

“At this time, it doesn’t look like it is the best course for both schools and the community because we don’t think the city wants the field,” Linden Athletic Association President Hale Smith, who was not present at the meeting said of the prospect of turning the field over. “We don’t know who (would) be managing the field. Will it be the city? Will it be a group from both schools that the city puts together? We don’t know what we can do to satisfy Linden High School. We would love for representatives of both sides to sit down with the Linden Athletic Association.”

After several minutes of dialogue, Curry conceded the point.

“We understand there is nothing y’all can do and we’re going to move on,” he said.