Monday, September 16, 2013--6:30p.m.
MADISON--A few months ago a community foundation approached Madison College about building a new softball complex. "A new high-quality playing field for our women's softball team, it would also allow us to create a soccer field for our men's and women's teams to play here on campus," explained Tim Casper, the college's assistant vice president of budget and public affairs."Currently they play their matches at Warner Park, we have only a practice facility here."
The $18 million project would also re-locate the current baseball diamond and give the campus the opportunity to host some big time tournaments. "It would mean visitors and their teams coming into the East side of Madison, where they'd have the ability to partake in the restaurants, partake in shopping in the area and perhaps spend nights in hotels on this side of town," said Casper.
But for neighbors near the proposed expansion, the plan isn't a hit. Within the last few days, they've started a petition to try and stop the complex. "When you have four games going on you're going to have eight teams coming in there with eight bus loads," said Randy Charles, the president of the Starkweather Creek Condo Association. "What's going to happen is they're going to wind up parking along Anderson Street, Carpenter Street, cutting through there and that's going to create more problems."
Campus officials acknowledge that the planned parking for the complex might not cover the crowds at big tournaments. But they say those games would not be during the college's peak hours, meaning additional parking would be available on campus.
But neighbors are also worried about the noise level--and the lights--that come with such a complex. .
Additionally, they don't want their access to nature areas or wildlife to change. "There's too many unanswered questions about this whole project," said Charles. "...At this point I don't even want answers to these questions, I want this thing stopped."
Neighbors say they're worried about chemicals from the fields running off into the nearby wetlands.
When asked if this is just another case of "not in my backyard" syndrome, they say yes--but say the surrouding woods and wildlife make their backyards unlike those of most other families.
Campus officials say the plan is in its preliminary stages and they intend to have a dialogue with the neighbors about ways to move forward.