Buffalo Grove Park District agrees to reopen cricket pitch, but league remains suspended
In response to outcry on social media and an online petition, the Buffalo Grove Park District reversed course Tuesday and agreed to reopen the cricket pitch at Green Lake Park.
The decision comes two weeks after the park district installed soccer goals over portions of the pitch to prevent play in response to complaints from neighbors of the park at 1101 Green Knolls Drive.
According to district officials, players in a cricket league have left their gear in a nearby sensory garden and fitness area, used the sensory garden as a dugout, smoked cigarettes there in violation of district policy, and urinated on trees.
Park district Executive Director Ryan Risinger met with the district's administrative team Tuesday and made the decision to reopen the pitch for recreational use, said Mike Terson, the superintendent of communications and marketing. However, the permit for league play remains suspended, though district officials say they are open to conversations about reinstatement.
Terson said the soccer goals will be removed within the next day or two, allowing play to resume on the pitch, a new amenity in the recently redeveloped park.
Rajesh Hatkar, one of more than 440 people to sign the online petition, said he and his two sons like to play on the pitch, but arrived there Saturday morning to find that impossible.
"To my total surprise, we found out that on the cricket pitch, they have put up two (soccer) goal posts," he said. "We initially thought it was by somebody's accident. But we didn't realize (the goals were) nailed to the ground and chained, so that nobody can lift it."
Buffalo Grove resident Felicia Ross, who started the petition, expressed concern that the park district was treating the pitch differently from other facilities, such as soccer fields.
"My kids played soccer. After every soccer game, there was garbage on the field," she said. "The kids would leave their water bottles, or the parents would leave coffee cups. They never closed down the soccer fields."
"I can't picture why they would close it down for five months," Ross added.
Terson said the park district attempted to address the problems with organizers of the cricket league, but "they were either nonresponsive or, when we suspended the permit, they showed up anyway."
Other problems includes teams beginning matches as early as 6:30 a.m., when the permit required them to start no earlier than 8 a.m., he added.
"People whose homes border the park shouldn't have to watch grown men urinating on a tree, when they have been told repeatedly to not do that and that they can't use the community's cricket pitch anymore," Terson said.
As to whether the cricket pitch was being treated differently, Terson said the district has closed other facilities when problems surfaced.
"When we have had issues at the skate park, for example, we have closed down the skate park," he said.