Menifee softball league for seniors cries foul over skyrocketing park-usage fees

Leticia Juarez Image
Thursday, October 26, 2023
Menifee softball league for seniors cries foul over park-usage fees
Seniors have been playing in a Menifee softball league for two decades, but now rising fees are threatening to take the fun out of the sport.

MENIFEE, Calif. (KABC) -- Four days a week, you can catch the Menifee Senior Softball League throwing some heat either during practice time or against any one of the nine teams they play against.

"It's not only the physical part, its the mental and emotional part keeps people off the sofa watching TV getting old faster than they normally would," said Bob Fuhrmann, league's commissioner.

The league is made up of 120 members aged 55 and older. Fuhrmann says for the past 22 year the league has been an affordable pastime for the retirees.

"We're a non-profit everything goes back into us. So, we've been able to cover the cost of our softballs, uniforms everything like that in-house. We are not going to be able to do that now," he said.

This September the league received a letter from Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District notifying them and other organizations that utilize the fields and facilities of an increase in fees.

"We got a notice from Valley-Wide Parks and Recreation that our fees are going to go from roughly $1,000 a year to $9,900," said Furhmann.

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That's a nine-fold increase but not to rent the fields. As a senior organization the fee to rent the field is waived instead the new fee reflects the cost of preparing the fields for their games.

Eyewitness News reached out to the District which said the new fee structure was necessary to offset the rising cost of maintenance, labor and to provide equitable access.

But Fuhrmann is concerned about other groups and organizations that carter to children leagues. He says the fee for those leagues are even more than theirs.

"You know the kids and the parents today they can't afford to pay $300 per kid to play soccer. I would say 90% is for the kids," he said.

The District also said it will be meeting with each league separately to discuss discounts for non-profit groups and local participants. They also noted that money collected by the district is used for the more than 100 parks and recreational facilities under its jurisdiction for improvements and renovations.

"We are trying to be very positive. We advertise Menifee. We're good for Menifee," said Dan Krepich, a player for the Menifee Senior Baseball League.

On Nov. 13, Valley-Wide Parks and Recreation District Board will hold its next meeting which the Menifee Senior Baseball League says they plan on attending.