NewsCitrus, Hernando County


Restrictions and locked gates at popular Brooksville public ball field spark outrage

Posted at 6:42 PM, Jul 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-16 19:21:39-04

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — Parents say they were shocked to find the gates at a popular public baseball field zip-tied shut next to a city sign restricting the use of the field.

Christene Cruz says she learned how to play softball at Tom Varn Stadium in Brooksville in her youth, that’s why she brought her family there to practice.

"How else are you going to teach little ones how to play ball if you don’t have a field," said Cruz.

The field has always been open to the public. But recently visitors found the gates zip-tied shut next to signs saying organized groups and trainers must provide certificates of insurance to the city and schedule visits to the field.

"I’ve been involved with this park my entire life since I was four, and it’s never been this big of a deal to have to lock fields," said Chrissy Hartley Dushane, a softball player and coach.

ABC Action News asked Brookville city manager Mark Kutney about the signs and zip-ties.

Kutney tells us after a youth league complained about other teams not reserving the field, the city took action. He says the zip-ties are only on the fields before scheduled games or if the field is wet from rain to prevent damage.

On Tuesday the gates were open to the public. But Dushane says recently she had a different experience.

"The fields were zip-tied when I got here at 7:30 in the morning and nobody had requested the field and the fields were not wet," said Dushane.

Dushane says locking up the fields is not the answer, especially at a public park.

"25 years ago I was the youth out here. It's heartbreaking to me that they would do that. Maybe a sign could be put up, but not a lock, that just sends the wrong message to the youth," said Dushane.

Kutney says when a permanent parks, facilities, and recreation director is hired, that policies will be looked over and there will be a chance for public input.