HACIENDA HEIGHTS, Calif. – Little leaguers in Hacienda Heights are rallying to keep their baseball fields.
The Hacienda La Puente Unified School District may soon approve a plan to spend $52 million to expand Wedgeworth Elementary to a K-8 school. If that happens, the league will lose at least two of the fields, and those are the only fields with lights.
Hacienda Heights Little League President Manny Perez says hundreds of kids have been playing on the field since residents pitched in financially and asked the district 40 years ago to use the space behind Wedgeworth School.
“At that time the school district had an agreement that we could use these fields essentially as long as it was a viable option for children,” Perez said. “I think 500 kids is a viable option.”
Perez says they need at least four fields to operate the league all day and night. If they are displaced, they will have to find a place outside the city to meet their needs. His 9-year-old grandson Jacob, who pitches in the little league, wouldn’t be able to play on the fields he has practiced on for six years.
“I would feel pretty sad that I’m going to lose the field that I been playing at for a long time,” Jacob said.
The district said in a statement on their website, “There is no written lease agreement between the Little League and the District. When construction of the fields was approved on January 26, 1978 the Board stated in the agenda item that the District intended to build a permanent school on the site and sell part of the Wedgeworth property for residential development. Letters and memos from that time period confirm that Highlander Little was aware of the District’s intent to sell part of the property.”
The District says it will work with the league to see if a solution can be identified.
Perez says the league of course supports the needs of students, but wants to find a compromise.
The district is expected to make a decision in the New Year.