Bellaire Mayor: Village Didn’t Sell Parking Lot

Bellaire Mayor Vince DiFabrizio and members of village council said Thursday the village still owns its section of the Junior Sports parking lot on 26th Street, and parking there will be available when baseball season starts this spring.

DiFabrizio said questions about the status of the parking lot resulted after Monday’s meeting of the Bellaire Local Schools Board of Education, when members indicated Bellaire High School’s team won’t be using the 26th Street baseball field this year, but will instead move to the baseball field in Neffs.

School district officials appeared before council in September seeking a 50-year agreement with the village giving the school district exclusive rights to the field during high school baseball season, although Bellaire Junior Sports would be permitted to practice on the field when it is not in use by the high school.

In return, Bellaire Local Schools was to use a $250,000 grant to make improvements to the 26th Street field. The school district now will use the money to improve the Neffs baseball field instead, council learned Thursday.

DiFabrizio said people have been led to believe the village sold the parking lot near the 26th Street field, prompting the change.

The village owns a portion of the lot, while Kenny Ware, owner of the neighboring ICR Equipment Rental, Sales & Supply, owns the remainder. Ware intends to allow Bellaire Junior Sports to use the lot, according to Councilman Donnie Maupin, who also works for Ware.

Ware plans to develop the lot in the future, but he will build a new parking lot for the 26th Street lot near the Mustangs field before he closes the current lot, Maupin said.

“Nothing was sold, nothing is sold and it is being discussed,” Maupin told council.

In other matters, Village Administrator Scott Porter held up a thick stack of papers, telling council it represented a backlog of work orders for the water department. Most of them are requests by residents to check low pressure.

He also showed council a section of pipe filled with lime deposits that stopped water flow inside one home, and he said many of Bellaire’s main lines also have such obstructions.

Porter has been asked by council’s finance committee to curtail spending, but he said most of the orders would entail digging up village streets and sidewalks at considerable cost.

“None of this is cheap,” Porter said. “I’m trying to cut back on everything we do, but we’ve got to do what is right for residents. … At what time do we stop giving service?”

Even simple water line breaks can cost the village much in overtime pay, according to Porter. Shut-off valves are non-existent or broken for many lines, and when a break occurs it often causes loss of service for the entire village.

With so many residents without water, it’s imperative to get the water back on as quickly as possible and sometimes that means keeping workers on the job and paying overtime until repairs are made, Porter said. Meanwhile, the work orders pile up for the water department.

“I just want you folks to understand that it’s not because we don’t care or are out doing something else — we’re overwhelmed,” he said.