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Lorain transfers ownership of The Pipe Yard to Lorain Schools

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    The Pipe Yard in Lorain on May 26, 2015. Ownership of the stadium has been transferred from the city of Lorain to the Lorain City Schools.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE FILE

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LORAIN — The Pipe Yard stadium is under new ownership after City Council voted Monday night to transfer the west side property to Lorain Schools.

Mayor Chase Ritenauer said it makes more sense for the schools to have possession of the stadium because while other organizations utilize it, such as the Lorain County Ironmen and youth teams, the schools use it more than the city.

“That’s where their baseball teams play, so it’s just a better fit for them to have it,” he said. “This has been discussed with the elected school board as far back as last year, and I have had discussions with the school CEO as well. There’s a shared interest here.”

Councilman Dennis Flores, D-2nd Ward, initially expressed concerns that the school district had not consulted with the other organizations that use the field and that current contracts might get thrown out.

“We’re putting the cart in front of the horse,” he said.

We’re going to pass this and then hear about what they want to do with the property. If the school decides they don’t want the Ironmen there or they schedule other things, what will it do to the relationships? If the relationships sour, then what? The school holds all the cards.”

Assistant Law Director Don Zaleski said the part of the agreement is that the school district will uphold all current contracts with other organizations to use the space.

“They’re not going to kick anyone out,” he said. “If there’s a contract they have to honor it. If the agreement runs out then they’ll negotiate a new deal.”

Ritenauer said the Ironmen have one or two years left on the contract, but the little league teams have a long-term agreement and he made it clear with the schools that little league needs to stay.

Flores said he wanted to make it clear he still supported the transfer and ultimately voted in favor of it but the lone no vote, Josh Thornsberry, D-8th Ward, said he couldn’t in good conscience support it.

“I don’t understand why we’re transferring this without getting all the interested parties together here,” he said. “I know we’re saying the agreements are being honored, but I’d feel better if there was a long-term plan in place.”

At the meeting, Ritenauer said the city also was planning on working with the school district to secure grant funds to renovate George Daniel Field.

Council also voted to add three parades — Cinco de Mayo, Waterfront Winterfest and Juneteenth — to the city-sponsored list of events, making them exempt from a parades and assemblages ordinance that passed last year and requires a $1 million insurance policy, putting a $1,000 deposit down for the use of city safety forces and a $300 application fee.

This brings the total city-sponsored events to five, including the Memorial Day and International Festival parades.

Waterfront Winterfest treasurer Laurel Bansek said the event canceled its parade this year in part because of the fees and will be using that money for lighting at Veterans Park and City Hall instead.

“That does not mean that we can’t bring back the parade in the future,” she said after Council’s vote.

The reason for the initial ordinance was to mitigate the cost of the city’s auxiliary police force because other assignments keep auxiliary officers busy throughout the year and with 30-hour work week limits on them, adding in too many parades can cause a strain on their availability.

“It’s apparent that City Council doesn’t care about police department funding, living within our means and scheduling within the labor laws,” Safety-Service Director Dan Given said. “They’ll need to understand when the expenses are exceeded that they played a hand in that.”

Given outlined the specifics about the auxiliary force in a letter to Council that was tabled at the meeting rather than discussed.

“We wanted to review this stuff with them because the parades need to be safe,” he said.

Contact Katie Nix at 329-7129 or knix@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @KatieHNix.

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