In Palm Coast, a contract means something until City Manager Jim Landon says it means something else.
Palm Coast Little League, a non-profit representing 550 players and 200 volunteers, found that out last month when the city administration arbitrarily booted the league off the fields it uses at Indian Trails Sports Complex to accommodate a for-profit tournament for two weekends in April in May, and possibly another organization in late March.
Palm Coast Parks and Recreations Director Lucianne Santangelo told Little League that it will “have use of Holland Park and Seminole Woods Neighborhood Park” on the conflicting dates, even though the city has a long-standing contract with Little League that gives it preferential use of the Indian Trails Sports Complex, and that lays out a specific process by which Little League could be shifted out of those fields. But the city did not use the process, or inform Little League of the coming tournament until the dates were set, other than to tell the organization that it would have to play elsewhere.
“We’re concerned that the actions that have been taken don’t fall in alignment with the agreement that we have with the city,” Little League’s Doug Berryhill told the Palm Coast City Council this morning, referring to the contract signed in 2007 b y Little League and Landon. He asked for council member’s “feedback in terms of the process that the city believes is appropriate to work through with the Little League organization to come to some kind of conclusion that we both believe is appropriate.”
An organization called Triple Crown Sports is hosting the tournaments, expecting to draw up to 60 teams. Triple Crown charges an entry fee of between $350 and $475 per team (and requires all participants to book hotel rooms through its own pipeline, forbidding third-party bookings). The organization was secured through the Flagler County Tourist Development Council. The city has encouraged recruiting such events to bring in visitors and stimulate the local economy. But such tournaments occasionally create friction with community organizations.
Berryhill was following through on a letter Patrick Johnan, writing on behalf of the Little League Board of Directors, sent council members and the city administration last week. “The Tourist Development Goals of bringing revenue to the city and its businesses thr[ough] allocating city facilities to ‘for profit’ tournament baseball programs provides some small measure of benefit to the community,” Johnan wrote. But Palm Coast Little League, he continued, “believes that the value delivered from this action in no way compares with the value the Little League delivers to the city thr[ough] the provision of services to Palm Coast children and their families. Additionally, PCLL believes the benefit of travel baseball/softball tournaments in no way justifies the city violating the terms of the agreement between the city and PCLL. The children of Palm Coast should not be penalized thr[ough] the contracting of city facilities to ‘for profit’ organizations.” (See the full letter below.)
After Berryhill made his case before the council this morning, citing his organization’s “preferred participant rights in terms of those fields” and the city’s failure to use the process that would have altered their use of the fields, Landon explained the city’s perspective.
“There is a misunderstanding,” he said. “The league had the privilege of not having other organizations use the field, as most of the other youth sports in our community don’t have that privilege, because there’s multiple groups.” It was a roundabout way of saying that Palm Coast Little League is the only organization that has a contractual agreement with the city, though Landon—who usually considers contracts sacred–appeared not to want to stress that aspect of the relationship.
The contract addresses Little League’s rights to the fields at Indian Trails Sports Complex as much as it addresses its use of the building it built there at its own expense. Landon focused on the building portion, downplaying the specific language of the contract defining field use.
“That agreement makes it very clear that Little League does not have exclusive rights to the baseball fields, but the gentleman does outline a typical process if we’re going to have other organizations be allocated time,” Landon said, describing that process. Typically, he said, the process would apply if a lacrosse or soccer or another baseball organization were to want to use fields. Recreation would get together with the various organizations and divvy up the time.
“If we had that type of organization come in we would do the same with the little league fields,” Landon said. “In this case that’s not what’s happening, because we have a third use of the fields. In this case we’re not allocating the use of those fields to this other organization. This is a tournament.”
In essence, Landon as he spoke to the council was rewriting the contract, adding in definitions it did not include and making a difference between “organizations” and “tournaments,” even though, as he would concede later, the contract with Palm Coast Little League makes no such distinctions: it’s “silent” on tournaments.
He went on: “So let’s take what we’re very used to, but Little League is not used to, is a soccer tournament. When the city has a tournament come in, then we schedule that, and we notify those different organization that were allocated that use of that field that on such and such a weekend we will need to find you another location, another location at a park to use the field, because the city is holding a tournament on those fields. And that’s what this is. This is the first time we’ve been able to recruit a baseball tournament for a couple of weekends.”
The difference he did not speak of was the difference Palm Coast Little League was stressing in its letter and its presentation to the council: it is the only organization to have a contract that directs the city’s process on alternate field use.
“Little League shall have primary proportional right to use the Complex between January 15 through July 31 and between September 1 through November 30 of each year,” the contract states. The proportional use kicks in when a different entity wants to use fields. The use will then be based on a lottery system “in which the Little League would be awarded a number of draws proportionate to the number of participants in the programs” relative to other programs.
“Little League has received no notification from the city regarding a lottery of any ntype, and has not been granted the opportunity to exercise the primary proportional use rights provided for” in the agreement, Johnan wrote.
Landon defined a tournament as existing outside the parameters of that contract, then took the discussion in a different direction, saying local organizations don’t pay for upkeep of Indian Trails Sports Complex: the city does, and tournaments help underwrite that upkeep. But eh couldn’t say how much that upkeep is.
“What’s our maintenance budget for Indian Trails Sports Complex?” council member Bill McGuire asked.
“We don’t actually separate it out as a different cost. It’s in our overall parks maintenance,” Landon said.
“How much money do we spend maintaining Indian Trails Sports Complex?” McGuire asked again.
“I don’t have an answer for you right now,” Landon said. “Some of the crews that are out at Indian Trails may be doing other things, too, we could try to come up with an estimate for you. But it is substantial.”
“This Little League,” Landon said, “we’ve been in contact with them every year about how can we get baseball tournaments in here. They may be surprised we finally did it, but the idea of us trying to use our Indian Trails Sports Complex for tournaments to help fund the actual maintenance of the fields, also just the local economy and all the businesses that thrive during these weekends that we have the tournaments, so this is the same thing we do with soccer, lacrosse, football, and now baseball. The only difference is we’ve never had a baseball tournament. But that is actually very consistent.”
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Council member Steven Nobile was uncomfortable with the redefinitions. “Mr. Landon, are we stating that the tournaments versus the organizations difference, is that another way of tomato-tomahto, or is it specified in the contract that tournaments are excluded?” Nobile asked.
“Tournaments are silent in the contract, just like all the other organizations,” Landon said, moments later again downplaying the contract and putting the responsibility for the tournaments on the council: “We’ve been given clear direction to go out and recruit tournaments, working with TDC. If city council wants to give local organizations priority of the fields, I guarantee you soccer would be happy to say we trump any lacrosse tournament,” Landon said.
“What I don’t want to do is create an unnecessary or high level heartache for a local community event,” Nobile said. “I understand the dollars are there. But right now we’re investing in a golf course and tennis courts, and our objective is, these are community benefits.” (Nobile has been critical of the city’s deficit-spending, to the tune more than $100,000 a year at the tennis club and the golf club, to keep both operations going, ostensibly as a community benefit even though they’ve never made money.) “I just want to make sure we’re working with them loosely to make sure this isn’t a great heartache.”
“You can’t tell us to go try to recruit tournaments, then we do, and we land them, and then turn it around,” Landon said.
“But I want us to act towards them like we would, I don’t want to use tomato-tomahto, or this isn’t this, this isn’t that, I just want to show them that we’re appreciative of their community service and we’re going to do what we can. But we have responsibilities too to the rest of the taxpayers to help pay for that.”
Landon said he’ll be meeting with Little League officials soon.
Patrick Johnan’s letter to the city on behalf of the Palm Coast Little League board:
Not fooled says
As not only a tax paying resident of Palm Coast and a parent who has children in the PCLL organization, but also someone who has a degree in Sports Turf Management…the maintenance put into that complex is minimal at best!!! With the exception of the soccer fields (they are maintained a little better because of the tournaments). The baseball fields are rarely mowed, the clay is never worked, they are almost a safety hazard!!! Jim Landon’s excuses are horrible! Tournaments are not paying for maintenance! There is none!
How can the city do this to the people who pay tax dollars for the up keep of that park and then let mostly nonresidents come in and take it over……so the city is going to disenfranchise local tax payer children so they can fill hotels, restaurants and other local businesses just for a few dollars….sad……think about it!!!!!!!!
just me says
endian trails complex is a great facility I get why the city would look to add some revenue with its use. If given enough time like it seems the City is doing it should not be that difficult for the little league to schedule games at other fields a few times in its season. IMO the problem with these tournaments that are held there is the BIG lack of parking.
We taxpayers pay for so much here, tennis etc
Now our kids and grandkids are being kicked off the field in favor of an organization?
Agreements mean nothing here
The parents staff the concession stand and the kids even the little 4-year olds love the games.
Scrambling to find other fields so that the city can make money, not right.
We all pay here
We should be able to play here
This is a residential park……most kids that play there can ride there bikes to the park….so now they have to figure out a ride to another park to play a ball game so the city can make a little money…..think about it!!!!
And how many more tournaments are going to be signed up over the next couple of years? Probably enough that the Little League will have even less time at the complex because it will have been taken over by tournaments.
. I am all for Palm Coast being able to have “for profit” events, but my concern is TDC will make all the rules as to who plays where and when, and PC will abide by it. After all Money is King.
What’s with players being told they have to book through their own pipeline and no third party booking?
Come on folks,the money is very much need to fund the money hole tennis facility and golf courses,
David B says
Why doesn’t PCLL participate in the tournament, or use the fields on the week nights ? Parents get involved in these tournaments and pay the entry fee, great experience for your kids.
THE VOICE OF REASON says
I’ve got the feeling the end game here is that the city will lose TWO Breach of Contract lawsuits. One to the Little League and one to the tournament organization when the city goes back to them and says it can’t host the tournament because it’s under court order to let Little League use the fields.
D Johnan says
Have the kids find and play at other fields???!!!! Really???? So money trumps the kids, volunteers, parents, families, ext., that are Dedicated to PCLL AND are Palm Coast Tax Payers!!!. By the way Holland Park Seminole aren’t even open!!!!
I will make this quickly a moot point, before the city gets sued, you better make sure you can revamp those field requirements for a sanctioned tournament, you see, Triple Crowne requires different field dimensions then what the city built:
“8u **40’ pitching**60’bases**1 hr 45 min**6 innings**15 runs after 3 innings, 10 runs
after 4 innings or 8 runs after 5 innings.
8u Championship Game: no time limit, no tie-breaker. Run rules are still in effect.
9u, 10u**46′ pitching**60 or 65′ bases**1 hr 45 min**6 innings** 15 runs after 3 innings, 10 runs after 4 innings, or 8 runs after 5 innings.
9u, 10u Championship Game: no time limit, no tie-breaker. Run rules are still in effect.
11u, 12u**50′ pitching**70′ bases**1 hr 45 min**6 innings** 15 runs after 3 innings, 10 runs after 4 innings, or 8 runs after 5 innings.
11u, 12u Championship Game: no time limit, no tie-breaker. Run rules are still in effect.
13u**54′ pitching**80′ bases**2 hrs**7 innings** 15 runs after 4 innings, 10 runs after 5 innings, or 8 runs after 6 innings.
14u, 60’6” pitching** 90’ bases**2 hrs**7 innings** 15 runs after 4 innings, 10 runs after 5 innings, or 8 runs after 6 innings.
15u, 16u, 18u**60’6″ pitching **90′ bases**2 hrs 10 min** 7 innings** 15 runs after 4 innings, 10 runs after 5 innings or 8 runs after 6 innings.
15u, 16u, 18u Championship Game: no time limit, no tie-breaker. Run rules are still in effect.”
You have one field with proper dimensions for play, the big field, otherwise, you will be moving the pitching mound back and cutting the grass to get the baselines correct for the majority of the other age brackets…
Piss poor planning leads to piss poor performance.
Mr. Landon, baseball is not a game for someone that is obtuse! Maybe you can work for Panera Bread Company’s National community development sector… LOL!
Why can’t they hold the tournaments at the other locations they stated? It may not be as big of a space as the Indian Trails sports complex, but if they are asking PCLL to find somewhere else to play maybe they can just have the tournaments at the other fields.
D Johnan says
The PCLL plays every week night and does not participate in travel tournaments. Palm Coast parents pay for a full season which would be cut short
I hope City Council members and city staff read these comments. Some good suggestions and reminders here.
[Note: the city is offering Holland Park for the spring dates when Little League may not use Indian Trails. By then the city expects to have finished the fields at Holland Park.–FL]
The little League can’t use Holland Park as is a mess still and closed!
As tax payers we subsidize the maintenance of the Indian Trails Complex….and any other sport money making tournaments should be worked around the LL schedule.
I agree that probably the costly maintenance of the IT Complex is not as costly as told.
Taxpayers facilities should not be held hostage by TDC $$ making events. We should be first like in Palm Coast original organizational chart, because we built and fund the facility!
Why instead TDC don’t look, find, promote and bring golf or tennis tournaments instead as we have two dedicated courts available for that all the time and that really need funding? Good question for Landon and Kemper. I remember when ITT used to bring those tournaments here all the time. Now they hired this new TDC official that only brings land deteriorating extreme sport races or tournaments to the facilities that are taxpayers sustained were our community children stay of the streets playing weekly LL.
Palm Coast should not be approving to all that TDC proposes!! We had already fought them successfully with Princess Place Preserve.
If the TDC proposed schedule tournament will charge a public attendance fee maybe the LL players should be allowed to attend exempted of the fee. Then will be a positive not to play their LL game while attending the tournament and that can resolve the issue? If one area of the public attendance could be reserved for just LL seating and try to promote car pool to the tournament among LL attendance. Maybe this will work?
After all attending this tournament could be a learning experience for the local LL players.
This will continue as long as Jim Landon is the City Manager. The City Council and City staff could care less. Everything here is “pay for play”.
“An organization called Triple Crown Sports is hosting the tournaments, expecting to draw up to 60 teams. Triple Crown charges an entry fee of between $350 and $475 per team
(and requires all participants to book hotel rooms through its own pipeline, forbidding third-party bookings). ”
Would this be that “free market” that corporations are always proclaiming their love for? You know, where people are free to shop for the best price among competitors?
Public Recreation facilities for Tax Payers Children?………………….Dagnabbit! ,………We are becoming a community of raving Socialists! These Children should pick themselves up by the Boot-Straps, get a some chain saws, a ditchwitch and a roller and get to cutting out a field in the woods.
I say again…….. Dagnabbit Socialists ruinin Merica! (giggle, giggle!)
The more you pay Landon the less you get says
Vote the City Council members out who are not working in your best interest and who keep Landon on the payroll sucking up hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars annually. Time and time again its reflected on here how we pay the price for the mismanagement of the city yet the same ones keep getting reelected, or they move up and get elected as County Commissioners. Vote all incumbents out in 2016!!! The council and commissioners are responsible for Landon and Coffey and they let these men have free rein with no accountability or over site.
Heading North says
Get rid of Landon, Netts, the commission, and Manfre while you have the chance in the upcoming elections!!!!!
None of them are leaders for sure!!
In Palm Coast I have noticed, the city manager’s needs come first, the mayor next, city staff are next, then city council, special interests and then maybe the residents. We residents are just such a bother to the city. The city bureaucracy takes their lead from the city manager and he is all about hubris. The only way to change these convoluted priorities is to replace the city manager. Good luck on replacing the city manager because he is firmly entrenched. Let the kids play ball on their fields.
Flagler Baseball says
Forgot the politics, play baseball in Bunnell! In its inaugural season Flagler Baseball raised over $17,000 for local families in need. We did this while providing umpired games for close to 200 young athletes! Flagler Baseball is looking forward to a great spring season! Flagler Baseball.com
Marty, with local government like this and a Chamber who hustles over the needs of the citizens here whose tax dollars they use, I think you’d lose, hands down, if this were put to a vote.
We are subsidizing this with taxpayer dollars. That’s a crime in my book. The residents of Palm Coast and Flagler County, nor our children, gain anything from being used like this.
Who is the local sports connection in all this. Somebody is making money and it isn’t the taxpayers. But until people are willing to show up and vote this out, the corruption on the council and commission will continue to take place.
Besides pimping out our taxpayer facilities how much money is Dunn subsidizing this for-profit event with TDC funds? Can the guy bring any major events here without handing over taxpayer money?
Lot of great comments here, thanks to all who support the children. Jim Landon says the contract doesn’t apply because this is a city event on a city field. Not sure where he got his law degree, but the bigger question is does Landon say that Little League games are not a city event????
Flagler Live Baseball, saw your comment and want to say congratulations on all your success and accomplishments. We at PCLL share your commitment to serve our community in many ways. PCLL wishes you all the best.
“Palm Coast Parks and Recreations Director Lucianne Santangelo told Little League that it will “have use of Holland Park and Seminole Woods Neighborhood Park” on the conflicting dates, even though the city has a long-standing contract with Little League that gives it preferential use of the Indian Trails Sports Complex, and that lays out a specific process by which Little League could be shifted out of those fields. But the city did not use the process, or inform Little League of the coming tournament until the dates were set, other than to tell the organization that it would have to play elsewhere.”
IF the City is not using the proper, legal process nor informing a contractual entity (Little League) of the possibility of upcoming tournaments that might affect them, then those city council and managers need to be voted out of office. Having lived in a metro region of 6 million people for 34 years and being involved with my kids playing everything from baseball to basketball to soccer to scouts, and coaching and team managing as well, I worked very well with our county’s baseball fields for my team’s practice sessions. My teams time was OUR time and it was on a first-come first served basis and worked well for all.
Corrupt county officials were known and kicked out of office as quickly as possible. Did the taxpayers who fund these county/city parks approve allowing for-profit tournaments onto their parklands? 2016 IS here…