What began as a disagreement over a sign at the youth sports complex in Honesdale appears to be a larger matter — possibly involving personal and political agendas.
— What began as a disagreement over a sign at the youth sports complex in Honesdale appears to be a larger matter — possibly involving personal and political agendas.
The issue surfaced this past Monday night at the Honesdale Borough Council meeting and was about the naming of the sports complex last year.
Last year, a ceremony was held and the area was renamed the "Scott Kinzinger Complex."
But how that happened remains a mystery.
Former councilman and former Honesdale Little Baseball Association board member Nick Slish was at the meeting and asked the council how the renaming happened.
"Nobody knows," was the response from both Mayor Ed Langedoerfer and F.J. Monaghan.
"I feel it is a slap in the face to the many people who have worked so hard for that complex," said Slish.
Slish said he was in no way taking anything away from Kinzinger but he also pointed out many other people have contributed greatly over the years to the success of the program
"A lot of people are upset over it," said Slish.
He asked the council members if the situation will be discussed.
Monaghan said that was already in the process.
Councilman Bob Jennings told council members he had received a call from Kinzinger earlier in the day Monday concerning the complex.
Jennings said Kinzinger told him if the matter arose to tell council members it was a "misunderstanding" and that he was "withdrawing" his name.
That apparently means the sign will come down, though that has not been confirmed.
Later in the meeting, the matter was once again discussed, this time led by Mike Slish, chairman of the parks and recreation committee and brother of Nick Slish.
"I really want the general public to have a say in it," said Mike Slish about the naming of the complex.
Councilman Jim Brennan suggested the complex be given a generic name and then some sort of plaque be erected to honor the various people who have contributed to the betterment of baseball over the years.
"I like the idea of a generic name and a plaque," said Monaghan.
The council decided to table the matter until next month's meeting in order to "get the name right," said Monaghan.
Though the sign does remain an issue, there appears to be other issues surrounding the sports complex and some members of the league are quite unhappy.
"I could care less as far as my name," said Kinzinger in an interview this week.
As for how the naming took place, board member Mike Flederbach said a group of members had a "meeting after a (board) meeting" last year in which they "talked about doing something nice for Scott."
Flederbach said he contacted Langendoerfer about possibly doing something.
But the mayor said he was not aware there was going to be a naming of the complex.
"I am all for doing something for Scott Kinzinger but not in a million years would I have agreed to naming the complex after him," said the mayor.
Flederbach said after the naming of the field "everything was fine and dandy" until this year.
Kinzinger agreed, saying he didn't know of any issues until he was contacted by Mike Slish and some other issues arose.
Kinzinger claims that Mike Slish said there should be some kind of lease between the baseball organization and the borough. He then claimed that Mike Slish said all of the improvements and equipment at the field should be signed over to the borough.
"Absolutely not," said Mike Slish about whether or not he brought up the issue of signing over the property, who added that league officials "actually contacted us in the beginning."
"I know why," said Kinzinger about the reason this issue is now surfacing. "There are a couple of former council members whose kids are in the league."
Kinzinger said he began "hearing" through several sources that those council members were saying "they didn't remember" anything about the complex being renamed "coming across their desk."
That, he said, is when the others issues arose surrounding the complex.
Kinzinger said he believes the motivations are personal and political.
"My concern is not the sign," said Kinzinger. "My concern is for the kids."
Kinzinger said the complex has been there for 40 years and there have not been any problems.
Kinzinger agrees that a lease would be appropriate.
In fact, he has done some research and there are many places where long-term leases are put into place. Many of them are for 99 years for $1, he said.
But Mike Slish said he contacted the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs and was told "definitely not" when it comes to a lease.
"We can't do that," said Mike Slish of the lease.
He also said they did look for a lease but can find no record of one ever being signed.
Slish said at this point, the borough will have to do a "use request just like they do for the other parks."
Kinzinger said the league has paid for and made all of the improvements at the complex. That includes everything from dugouts to lights and even the mowing.
Kinzinger said he talked to Mike Slish about more improvements they want to do at the complex, including adding pavilions and batting cages.
"He said all of the buildings must be signed over to the borough," said Kinzinger. "We said no."
Mike Slish again said he did not discuss that subject, rather, it was the insurance issues which were talked about.
Kinzinger said the league owns all of the equipment and buildings at the complex and has paid for it over the years.
"We can't afford to lose the place but we can't afford to have them dictate things," said Kinzinger.
Kinzinger said this has been going on since last year when he learned about the demands being made.
"We've been at a stalemate since last year," said Kinzinger. "We are not going to sink any money into the place if we don't have any control."
He said the operation of the sports leagues "has nothing to do with the borough" other than the fact they own the land.
"As of right now, the grounds are borough property," said Mike Slish, who did say the borough solicitor has been contacted about the matter.
"I feel it is a power play," said Kinzinger. "Why is he doing it at the expense of the kids?"
Flederbach said it's possible there are personal feelings involved.
"Whether someone has issues with Scott, I don't know," he said. "My biggest concern is getting it out in public. Let's do something. A lease or whatever. This is not something which isn't possible."
Both Kinzinger and Flederbach think there should be a lease agreement developed between the league and the borough.
"I would like to see this resolved and like to see us have a lease," said Kinzinger, who pointed out that around 400 children are involved in the baseball and softball programs in Honesdale.
Iron it out
Flederbach said he wants Mike Slish to come to a board meeting and discuss the issue.
"I think we can iron it out very fast," said Flederbach.
Mike Slish agrees.
"I do need to meet with them and discuss these matters," he said in an interview on Friday.
Langendoerfer said this week he didn't realize there were bigger issues than the sign.
He did say the "one mistake" he made was not letting the council know about the renaming, something he learned of at the last minute and a ceremony he did not attend for that reason.
He pointed out that no resolution or proclamation was presented for the renaming of the field.
But the mayor also said that since Monday's meeting, he has been made aware of the other issues involving the complex.
"I don't know what the big deal is," said Langendoerfer.
The mayor said there probably should be a lease with the league but he believes they should own the equipment which they have paid for over the years.
Mike Slish said he wants to find a solution.
"This situation should not have to come to this," said Mike Slish. "It should have been fixed a long, long time ago."
But, he said, the issues have surfaced and now they have to be dealt with appropriately.
He also said that in the past, it is his understanding that "previous councils" have "given him a hard time," referring to Kinzinger.
"I believe that's why they are upset," said Mike Slish. "They fear losing the property. We don't want that to happen. We want to make sure we are covered and they are covered."
Charlie Rollison, president of the Honesdale Little Baseball Association, said that Nick Slish has never been a board member. Slish made that statement during last week's meeting of the Honesdale Borough Council. We apologize for any confusion.