Scuffle follows passage of sports club rule in Crestwood
BY HANNAH KOHUT Correspondent August 15, 2013 10:32PM
A large crowd packs the room Thursday during a Crestwood Village Board meeting. | Hannah Kohut~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 17, 2013 8:29AM
A physical scuffle accompanied by profanity-laced shouts broke out in the parking lot Thursday night after the Crestwood Village Board approved a controversial ordinance that requires sports clubs that use village property for their playing fields to open up their financial records to the village.
Nearly 200 people were on hand for the meeting at the Civic Center in Crestwood, where some residents are divided over the use of field space that the Crestwood Soccer Club has exclusively used for years.
No one was immediately arrested as a result of the scuffle and there did not appear to be any serious injuries.
New Mayor Lou Presta said the site should be available to the public as well. The Crestwood Soccer Club has made numerous improvements there over the years, and among its board members is Trustee John Toscas, who ran against Presta for mayor earlier this year, leading some to question whether the issue is political.
During the public input portion of the meeting, some village residents voiced their disapproval of the village managing the playing fields.
Crestwood resident and soccer club board member of 19 years Peggy Ward tearfully spoke to the board, saying, “What you’re doing is wrong. None of you have ever come out to watch a game. You don’t know what our club is about. How can you take it from these people?”
The vote to approve the ordiance was 6 to 0, with Toscas abstaining.
Presta said the ordinance is in no way designed to have the village take over the soccer club.
“We just want to make sure our fields are open to everyone,” Presta said. “If you want to play on our fields, then you’re going to have to show us your (financial) books.”
The field space is owned by ComEd but is leased to the village.
Mychal Toscas, son of trustee Toscas and also a soccer club board member, said the soccer club will seek legal counsel as early as next week regarding the legality of the ordinance.
“Plan D, if it comes down to that, will be to move the soccer club to another town or village,” he said. “Because there have been offers made.”
Toscas also questioned who would be liable for accidents on the ComEd property if the village takes over.
Toscas said the soccer club now is held liable and carries insurance.
“Is the village now responsible for what happens on that field?” Toscas said.