City Council Discusses Topic Of Closed Ballfields

Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - by Joseph Dycus

The Chattanooga City Council spent part of their agenda meeting on Tuesday debating the feasibility and liability in relation to re-opening of ballparks in Chattanooga.

 

This debate started when the council began to discuss item VII b., which states:

 

“A resolution authorizing the Administrator for the Department of Economic And Community Development to enter into a Second Agreement to Exercise Option to Renew, in substantially the form attatched, with Lakeside Youth Association Inc.

for the use of property located at Tax Map No. 129C-A-018 for an additional term of one (1) year. (District 5)”

 

Councilman Jerry Mitchell had concerns about this resolution. He pointed out that these are leases for youth associations, and he wondered if the city had any liability if those leagues do try to play games. While no games are currently being played, this is a concern for the future.

 

“Well right now, under the governor and mayors’ orders, groups or assemblies of more than 10 people are not allowed,” said City Attorney Phil Noblett. “So that deals with your baseball team right there.”

 

The attorney continued by saying he was unsure about how long it would be until people are comfortable having games at those fields. He said that the LYA has multiple sports leagues, not just baseball.

 

“Normally, there would be some sort of insurance coverage to protect the city that would say they hold the city harmless for most events,” said attorney Noblett. “But we’ve never had an issue like this before.”

 

When Councilman Mitchell asked if the city is in contact with these leagues, attorney Noblett said that is a question for youth and family development. Attorney Noblett raised the issue of whether or not the prepared agreement is fair if only a few or zero games are played during the entire term.

 

Councilman Russell Gilbert asked, “If the association is not doing what we are advising them to do, are we liable?”

 

The attorney said as of now, the facilities are closed, and that it is a matter of opening up those facilities when people feel comfortable enough to utilize them. Even then, he reiterated that because gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed, sports like baseball and soccer cannot take place.

 

“Liability of these issues have not been determined by anyone at this point,” said the attorney. “But one would argue that every time you are assuming risk by going to a place and participating in that, that may be a defense for the city on those issues.”

 

“So there is potential liability if someone developed a disease, and we were negligent in starting back up to quickly.”


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