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Watertown parks officials, softball league reach compromise on fees

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WATERTOWN — A Sunday softball league and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department apparently have worked out their differences over fees the league would pay this year to use the fields at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

According to the compromise, the Watertown Sunday Softball League would pay $15 an hour for its games, part of a proposed new fee structure that other organizations also would be charged to use the fields.

Parks officials were under the assumption the league’s games each last more than two hours when the games actually are only about an hour long.

The Watertown City Council still must approve the change in the fee schedule in the city code if the $15 per-hour fee is to go into affect.

Last month, Watertown Sunday Softball League officials complained that a $30 per-game fee would have made it impossible for the league to stay in Watertown. They contended it was a 50 percent fee increase.

On Thursday, league Commissioner Tonino J. Alteri said the $15 per-hour fee “is doable,” adding the league will keep playing at the fairgrounds.

“Are we happy? Well, we’re happier,” he said about the new fee structure.

Parks and Recreation Department Superintendent Erin E. Gardner noted the $15 fee also would be applied to soccer, lacrosse, football and baseball organizations and other softball leagues that use the fields.

Parks Department officials came up with the idea after meeting recently with Sunday Softball League officials.

“It was a good meeting,” she said.

Last year, the league paid about $1,300, Mrs. Gardner said. If the $30 fee had been in effect last year, it would have paid $3,360, she said. The exact amount the league would pay depends on how many games are played this season.

The 44-year-old league plays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays, usually beginning after Mother’s Day and ending in August. The league usually consists of about 15 teams of 15 to 20 players each.

The council may vote on the issue at its May 5 meeting.

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