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Youth Baseball Merger Plan OK'd by Alpharetta Recreation Commission

The memorandum of understanding for the merger of the Wills Park Youth Baseball Association and the city program at Webb Bridge Park now needs City Council approval.

The creation of Alpharetta Youth Baseball Association with the merger of two separate programs took another step forward at the Alpharetta Recreation Commission's meeting on Aug. 25.

The Recreation Commission approved a memorandum of understanding between the Wills Park Youth Baseball Association and the city's baseball program at Webb Bridge Park. Alpharetta City Council will next consider the agreement.

"I think this could be the start of something awesome," said Recreation Commission Chairman Jim Cregge.

The Wills Park group's proposal to merge the programs started with a public meeting in February. Coaches, parents and association leaders added input on how this would be accomplished. The Wills Park group's board of directors offered suggested changes to the memorandum, which the commission considered at its meeting.

Travel coaches didn't like the use of the word "recreational" within the document, as it would seem to exclude them from leadership in the newly formed Alpharetta Youth Baseball Association.

Bill Lusby, president and commissioner of the Wills Park Youth Baseball Association Board, said he personally likes leaving the word in the document.

Of the 1,400 children participating, 1,360 play recreational ball.

Leaving the wording wasn't a deal breaker. Lusby said.

"It will float the way you guys want it to float," Lusby said. "The recreation program stays a recreation program."

Commission member Cheryl Rand wanted to be sure the wording of the document didn't mean young players in T-Ball would be assigned to play at a park far from their home if one of the parks didn't have enough children signed up for teams.

"If a park didn't have enough kids sign up for that park, they're given an opportunity to sign up for the other park, or given their money back," said Assistant Recreation Director Lisa Cherry.

To make the wording clear, the word "assigned" was removed.

The only real controversy, if it could be called that, was whether a 9-year-old travel team should be allowed. A few commissioners, including Cregge, were opposed to children that young on a travel team.

While he was personally against a 9U travel team, Commissioner Bob Riddell wanted the association to keep that option. He said if there is a need and desire by players and coaches, then the board should have the discretion to make that decision.

Lusby said the board has been doing that. This year there is a 9U travel team, but there hadn't been one for several years. The normal way they've handled different skill levels is through the creation of a "National League" for the more talented, competitive players. Those players who don't make those teams join teams in the "American League."

The commissioners voted to allow the group to form a single 9U travel team.

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