HARRIS COUNTY, Ga. – It seems like a simple request: a place for kids to play ball, but it’s not so simple in one county.
The saying from Field of Dreams says, “If you build it they will come.” but Heather Hajek is a mother of two boys. To her sports is just as important as academics. She says the character lessons that happen on this clay can’t be taught in the classroom.
In addition to coaching Hajek is also the president of the Mountain Hill Athletic Association. She says Mountain Hill needs its own field.
“Harris County is growing. The Grove has been approved off 315 and that’s just going to bring in more kids,” says Hajek.
She says raising money and finding land doesn’t happen overnight.
“It’s a huge deal and honestly I’ve been trying to find us somewhere to practice for the last 2 years,” says Hajek.
Pate Park is where Mountain Hill kids currently practice along with some other communities, but Hajek says it’s crowded. At one time 3 teams practiced together on one field..Mountain Hill only gets to use Pate Park twice a week for 2 hours and if it rains they’re out of luck.
The glimmer in this baseball coach’s eyes grew when she heard about a vacant baseball field.
Hajek says, “It’s beautiful and here we are begging for a place to practice constantly,” but not beautiful anymore.
Hajek asked her district commissioner Becky Langston about the vacant field.
“I’m not from here so I don’t know a lot about the political side of the ball fields, but when I brought it up it was not up for discussion. Those fields will not be used… so I don’t know,” says Hajek.
“There was no explanation,” says the reporter.
I’m not really sure why I don’t know all of the background, says Hajek.
“The superior court issued a permanent injunction against that type of activity on that land,” says Langston.
John rogers owns the land and he has a different interpretation.
“My lawyer says there is no such thing as a permanent injunction on property..I could apply today to go forward with the rezoning,” says Rogers.
Rogers says he built the field about ten years ago for his kids to practice.
He says the County Commission told him he didn’t zone it correctly. He says the county sued him. In the end it cost him about $40,000 in legal fees.
I asked Charles Wyatt, a former county commissioner, if he remembers a ball park figure on the total cost.
“Give or take it was a $100,000.”
An average baseball field costs about $20,000.
If his figure is accurate it means Harris County could have built about five fields with that money…
I asked Langston about the money:
“The tax payers paid a lot of money…why would they fight something like this and spend all of this money,” says the reporter.
“I have no other comment,” says Langston.
Now instead of kids playing ball it’s a graveyard where school buses go to die.
“You want to see it redeemed for the community at this point,” says the reporter.
“Yeah I would love to see somebody get use out of it,” says Rogers.
However, the commissioner says the door is closed.
“No other comment…it is a settled legal matter,” says Langston.
Either way Hajeck, a mother and coach says, she will keep working to find her kid’s a solution.
Commissioner Langston also says they are searching for an additional land for a ball field right now and negotiations are keeping her from disclosing.
We will be sure to follow up on what happens next.
She says she was also a former coach for fast pitch softball and cares very much for our young people.