Thousands sign petition to save a community baseball field in Allegheny County

WHITEHALL, Pa. — It’s a field where hundreds of kids play t-ball, baseball and softball each year and soon it will be gone. Families in Whitehall and the Greater Baldwin Whitehall Athletic Association tells Channel 11 they’re still fighting to save lower Prospect field. It’s one of two adjacent fields in Prospect Park in the borough of Whitehall.

“As soon as our season is over November 1, they’re going to tear this out and there’s nothing to do to stop it,” Keith Maiden, Senior Vice President of the GBWAA said.

The Greater Baldwin Whitehall Athletic Association serves 1,500 kids, ages 4-18.  The organization tells Channel 11, kids use lower Prospect field six days a week, minimum. They’ve started a petition to save the field which already has over 2,200 signatures.

Keith Maiden says the GBWAA has poured over $20,000 into maintaining the fields and not a dime came from Whitehall. The athletic association has secured tens of thousands of dollars in grants and fundraising.

“Losing this field is going to be a real hardship for us,” Maiden added. “Now we have to move the kids to other fields and shuffle everything which creates a waterfall effect.”

Adam Dembiski grew up playing on the field where his kids now practice.

“We have very young kids that play on this field and this means fewer games, less practice,” Dembiski added. “They know they won’t get as much time to play and they’re sad.”

The Mayor of Whitehall tells me this field was never meant to stay and removing it is part of the borough’s long term ‘Parks Master Plan.’ Mayor Jim Nowalk tells Channel 11 a soccer field will go in its place for kids who are underrepresented since there’s already another baseball field in the park. The Mayor added that there are six baseball fields in Whitehall parks, but only one soccer field.

The GBWAA says they brought alternative solutions to council, especially because another baseball field was removed in town three years ago.

“There are a number of different ways we could have coexisted without affecting baseball,” Maiden said.  “We try to work with football, soccer, basketball as well.  We try to work with all the youth organizations to have a united front.”

This week, Whitehall council voted to forward with the Park’s Plan to remove the field. The GBWAA says if nothing changes, they just want the kids they serve to know they gave it their all.

“I really would like this to be a community decision rather than a few individuals,” Dembiski said.  Maiden added, “Once this field is gone, we’ll never get it back. Now that’s 2 in 3 years.”