SPRINGFIELD, NJ - In public comments before the Springfield Township Committee, a member of the Jonathan Dayton baseball team and the parent of another player spoke to their opinions on the matter of the trees at Ruby Field.
While the field is home to Jonathan Dayton Varsity Baseball, it is owned and operated by the recreation department and used for recreational sports, including baseball and soccer. As a result, the township has final say over decisions regarding the land.
In the past few months, discussion has occurred about the trees in Ruby Field. They sit in the field of play for baseball. As a result, some residents want to see the trees removed, with the hope that the safety of players will be improved. On the other hand, some residents feel the trees should remain in place, and that by looking to cut them down, the town is putting in place a project with a negative impact on the environment.
Two members of the former group spoke before the township committee earlier this week. Steve Rosenstock, who has a son on the team, and Zachary Gelo, a pitcher, first-baseman and outfielder for the Bulldogs.
For Rosenstock, the main issue of safety is key. He noted that the trees pose a variety of issues in his opinion. Players may run into them and get injured, they may trip over branches and with the trees actually being in play under the current rules, he suspects a few home runs may have been snared.
But one of Rosenstock's main points centered around bleacher accommodations, which he feels pose a potential major safety risks waiting to happen.
"From kind of a safety perspective...when you're standing down the right field line you're staring right into the setting sun," Rosenstock said. "Coupled with the fact that you're only about 10-15 feet off the right field line with no fence in front of you. So you've got a right-fielder or first-baseman potentially running into you, you have foul balls that could be coming at you."
With that being said, Rosenstock also said he empathized with residents who were against tree removal, and understands where they are coming from on the issue.
"I feel like if we got rid of the trees, it would benefit all the players safety-wise and playing-wise," Gelo said. "We'd be able to clear that space, we'd be able to hit balls there without worrying about players running into trees, the branches falling down and slipping on branches like I personally did once before, resulting in a sprained ankle."
He suggested fencing off the stumps, but that idea would still have to be taken up by the rec department and township before being implemented.