Krista Hayes and Carolyn Dudeck are doing the often-thankless job of trying to keep local organizations going.
As leaders for the Cheshire Travel Basketball and Junior Cheerleader squads, respectively, these two, along with many others, are working on their own time to help provide some opportunities and experiences for local youth that, without these groups, wouldn’t exist. In a world where so much competes for the time and money of local families, their challenge is real.
That’s why it’s somewhat dismaying to see Hayes back in front of the Cheshire Town Council, once again asking for a decrease in the amount the Town charges her club and others like it for using municipal facilities. In order to practice and compete, the squads must use buildings in Cheshire, and must pay to do so.
That there is a fee involved for the use of community facilities is not the issue. No one expects the Town to make buildings available during off hours, provide maintenance and/or security, and do so for nothing. But as Hayes has pointed out, Cheshire’s asking price is high in comparison to neighboring towns, and it makes running a small community-minded organization all the more difficult.
In order to pay the Town, the teams must charge more for participation. That naturally prices out a certain number of people who either can’t afford the costs demanded or will not commit extra dollars while already paying for their children to participate in multiple activities.
Hayes believes that the prices are at least somewhat to blame for a decrease in enrollment for Travel Basketball. Dudeck feels the same regarding her cheerleading squad. It only makes sense that, with other area teams offering lower prices, Cheshire residents will look for the best price.
If facility fees remain where they are, Cheshire’s may not be capable of competing for the business.
Since the facilities in question are, with few exceptions, schools, the decision of whether to lower costs will fall to the Board of Education. The group previously stated that it would take requests from Hayes and others under advisement, but nothing concrete has been done.
Now, with three new members and a new BOE chair, we hope this issue will garner the attention it deserves and a decision will be made quickly. The longer the Board waits to act, the more likely it is that Travel Basketball, Junior Cheerleading, and others will continue to struggle to retain their participants and attract new ones.
There must be a reduced price point that would satisfy both the clubs’ needs for financial help and the Town’s need to cover costs. There has to be a way to ensure that buildings are opened and monitored without having to break the bank for off-hours help.
If neighboring municipalities can do it, so can Cheshire.
There’s been a lot happening in town over the last 12 months, especially when it comes to the schools. We can understand how this particular issue may have been lost in the shuffle or put on the back-burner as more immediate concerns were addressed.
But as 2020 begins, we hope a resolution can be presented and local groups such as Travel Basketball and Junior Cheerleading receive the support they need.