The 5 Diamonds youth baseball complex came away with a score – but not necessarily a win – Thursday night.
After battling with the Town of Waukesha for months over its operating agreement and conditional use permit – including over the times the field lights should be shut off – the owners of the private baseball field requested annexation into the City of Waukesha.
The Waukesha Common Council approved the annexation on a 7-to-7 vote during its meeting. Mayor Jeff Scrima said he broke the tie with pride.
But after the crowd clapped in celebration and left, it was discovered that in order to approve an ordinance for an annexation – which is a future vote – it requires a two-thirds vote of the Common Council. That means the 5 Diamonds, which is located off the southeast side of the Highway 164/Highway 59 bypass, needs the support of at least 10 aldermen to locate into the city.
Five Diamonds owner Tom Kelenic said after the meeting that he was never informed the annexation would take a two-thirds vote.
“It is another hurdle,” Kelenic said after the meeting.
While some neighbors have complained to the town members about lights and noise from the children playing baseball, an hour-long public comment period showed overwhelming support from city residents and baseball families. However, town residents were not allowed to comment because council rules requires public speakers to live in the city or own property in the city.
The problem with putting a time limit on how late games can be played on the field and how late the lights can be on is baseball “is not a timed sport,” said the assistant baseball coach for Catholic Memorial High School.
Catholic Memorial, which uses Five Diamonds for its home games, was attracted to the field because Frame Park’s lights were having problems before the council approved funding for the field upgrades.
Additionally, Waukesha South and Waukesha North baseball teams use Frame Park for home games. Because the teams are in the same conference as Catholic Memorial, there is no “home field advantage,” said the coach, who left before Patch could get his name.
“It felt like it was home for the first time,” said the coach. “The quality of the field was great, even throughout this drought.”
Nine-year-old Spencer Robertson told the council “I like everything except for the lights situation.”
Spencer told the council he was up to bat, waiting for his next pitch, when “someone” told his coach he was out because the lights had to be turned off.
“I didn’t understand why my team had to go out in the bottom of the sixth inning,” Spencer said. “It made me sad because I wanted to get a hit because bases were loaded.”
Waukesha Blazers President Brad Henes told the council he was that “someone” who had to tell Spencer’s coach the game was over and the lights had to be turned off.
“Baseball is not a timed sport,” Henes said. “It is something that sometimes runs over.”
Alderman Rick Hastings supported the annexation move because the majority of the kids on the Waukesha Blazers baseball team are from the city. By having the 5 Diamonds in the city, the players would be served by Waukesha paramedics in the case of injury.
“The city has nothing but good things to gain from it,” Hastings said.
But some Waukesha aldermen were vocal about their concerns. While they were told that they could not tie conditions, such as game times, to an annexation, Alderman Eric Payne said that’s the only way he would vote for the annexation.
Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings, who after the meeting was heard saying “they have no idea what they are getting into, no idea,” was adamant against the annexation.
“It is about following the rules,” Cumming said. “Baseball has a set of rules – three strikes and you are out.”
“They are government shopping,” she added.
But in the end, she said, it comes down to the one thing she is not allowed to talk about:
Voting For the Annexation
- Rick Hastings
- Steve Johnson
- Adam Jankowski
- Vance Skinner
- Andy Reiland
- Roger Patton
- Paul Ybarra
Voting Against the Annexation
- Eric Payne
- Joan Francoeur
- Joe Pieper
- John Kalblinger
- Kathleen Cummings
- Duane Paulson
- Terry Thieme
- Chris Hernandez