“It’s a sad day:” Owner locks minor baseball out of training facility

“We’re on lockdown and our kids don’t have a place to practice,” says frustrated minor baseball official, noting the popular facility was “tipped and rolled” with support

The Orillia Legion Minor Baseball (OLMB) has been banned from its indoor training facility, The Fieldhouse, located at 53 Jamieson Dr. in Oro-Medonte.

In July, OLMB renewed its sublease agreement for two years after operating The Fieldhouse for the previous two years. It was signed by the owner of the building, Michael Weinberg, who is a plastic surgeon in Toronto.

“There was a small increase in fees because the price of the land had increased. We accepted it and continued to operate the country house; everything went well, ”said OLMB President Wes Winkel.

In early October, owner Robert Devries began requesting that work be done on the building so that OLMB could continue to operate in the building.

“Stuff like fire extinguishers and exit signs are things he wanted to update. He also wanted our liability to drop from $ 2million to $ 10million which was extremely expensive and our lease, on paper, only required $ 2million, but we agreed to do that and we thought it was okay. fix us up, ”Winkel explained.

Devries came back with more things Weinberg wanted to do, including a “life safety study” that is being done by surveyors and architects.

“They would like to know what it is for, the structural integrity of the building, and things like that. But it would cost $ 40,000 or more to get it done and we can’t afford to pay for it. We are a voluntary organization emerging from a pandemic, ”said Winkel.

According to Winkel, Devries asked the OLMB to cease operations at The Fieldhouse if it was unwilling to complete the study. When the OLMB refused to join, they were locked out.

“Now we are on lockdown and our children have no place to train. And now this Dr Weinberg, who originally signed our lease with none of that to do, is intentionally making it so difficult for us to stay in the lease that we can’t afford it, ”Winkel said.

Devries says the building does not meet the requirements of the Township of Oro-Medonte for the use for which OLMB wants to use it. It does not disclose details of requirements that are not being met. Weinberg did not respond to a request to comment on this story.

“I understand their use and fully support them, but they just don’t meet the criteria,” he said.

“We understood that we had the township’s cooperation to make things work, and that’s how we did it because OLMB is a non-profit organization. The strategy they wanted to implement was to talk about it so that the requirements were not to be overwhelming, but still making sure that the requirements were met, ”said Devries.

However, Winkel said there was no way to “talk about it”.

“We had a few conversations with the township and at first they said they had no interest in shutting us down, but when we returned to them they said the landowner had forbidden them to talk to us any further. of the issue, “he said. noted.

“The municipality told us that there was no urgent need to make changes, but of course the owner of the building announced that there were things that needed improvement in his building. ”

OLMB asks Weinberg and Devries to allow them to return to the facility, but if they continue to refuse, Winkel says the organization has no choice but to remove their equipment and start looking for a new location. to build a Fieldhouse. He said they were probably going to sue for damages.

“Our legal opinion says we’re in a very strong position to seek damages, but that’s not our goal. We want a place where the kids can train and we are very frustrated, ”said Winkel.

“The Fieldhouse swayed and rolled. It was full, we had Orillia Soccer, lacrosse, Innisfil baseball, Muskoka baseball, all of our teams … it worked really well.

Devries says he’s hopeful the issue can be resolved, but he’s not sure if it’s still a possibility.

“Time is precious and it passes quickly. I think that would force people to sit down and talk reasonably about the requests and then move on,” he said.

Devries also hopes the issue will be resolved without any legal action from the OLMB.

“I’m not on their way, and I’m not the one with the ultimatum either. I’m caught in the middle,” he said.

“I certainly share OLMB’s goal of supporting the community and offering these activities to our young people. There is currently no similar installation and there is a demand for it. I will do everything in my power to help them pursue these interests, ”said Devries. Recount OrilliaMatters.

Winkel says it would be very difficult to find a new building with the necessary size requirements for The Fieldhouse. The OLMB is also not sure if it would be able to afford another location, as rental prices have risen significantly since the start of the pandemic.

“We’re not sure minor baseball can afford a new lease. We have set our budget based on the lease payments we are already paying, ”he said.

“It’s a very sad day. It hurts … these children.

Winkel asks anyone with knowledge of an available space that is at least 100 feet long by 60 feet wide of free space to contact OLMB.

Comments are closed.