GAA negotiations with city to install new scoreboard continues Thursday

Linda Trest
Staff Writer

Jesse Wilson, president of the Gerald Athletic Association (GAA) will again address the board of aldermen at their regular monthly meeting Thursday, Oct. 11. 

The GAA has asked permission to install two electronic scoreboards  at the ball fields in City Park. 

The GAA is the predominant user of the ball fields fielding softball and baseball teams in the spring and summer and soccer leagues in the fall. 

A $250 user fee has been paid by the GAA for many years. In 2017, the city asked the organization to pay for 40 percent of the property insurance that covers the area of the park used by the group. This includes the ball fields and the lights, the concession stand and a storage shed. 

Aldermen have expressed concern to Wilson that the $250 user fee does not cover the cost of the electricity used by the GAA. They were concerned about adding additional charges to the electric bill. 

Wilson proposed his group would pay a flat fee to the city of $1,000 to cover the user fee, electricity and insurance. 

The GAA’s portion of the insurance comes to $417 this year. 

City Clerk Jane Hungler has provided figures on electrical usage at the park. By looking at the increased usage from June through October, Hungler estimates the GAA uses around $438 of electricity a year on average.

In information Wilson will present to the board, an estimate for the electric usage of the scoreboards is given at a little more than $1 a day. 

The concession stand that was built a few years ago is used almost exclusively by the GAA. The equipment in the stand was furnished by GAA.

The GAA also maintains the infield, or dirt, portions of the ball fields. They have also made improvements such as a batting cage and dugout repairs. In the past, they have made some significant donations to other park projects.

When not scheduled for GAA use, the ball fields, and their amenities can be used by anyone. 

Getting their financial house in order has been a continuing theme for the current sitting aldermen. 

They took a hard look at what it actually costs to produce a gallon of water for the citizens of Gerald and then raised the rates accordingly. 

Several years ago, they did same with the city’s sewage system. Rates were again raised to cover the cost of maintaining the sewage system. 

For the last year or so, aldermen have examined user’s fees at the parks. 

The Gerald Bridle and Saddle Club and the Gerald Area Chamber of Commerce are the only other organizations to pay the $250 fees. 

The Saddle Club does have lights around the arena, but only uses those lights a few times a year. The club does not have a separate meter for electrical service. They built and equipped their cook shack, arena and bleachers using their own funds on park property. 

The Chamber owns the historic Rock Island Depot which is located in Legion Park. They have their own electrical service and pay Ameren directly for that service. They also carry insurance on the depot. 

For all three organizations, the city cuts the grass and otherwise maintains the properties. Trash for all three groups is disposed of using the city’s trash agreement at no cost to any party. 

It is believed that the city and the GAA can come to an agreement that would be fair to all in both adding the new scoreboards and increasing the GAA’s payments to the city.

That is the issue up for discussion in Thursday’s meeting.