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VALLEY FOCUS | West Valley

Girls League Rejects Offer to Use Field

July 30, 1998|SUE FOX

After filing a federal lawsuit against the city in April alleging inequality between playing fields for girls and boys, the West Valley Girls Softball League has turned down an offer for the temporary use of fields at Woodland Hills Recreation Center during the coming season, Deputy City Atty. Dion O'Connell said Wednesday.

David Berman, president of the girls league, said that the league rejected the offer because the city took far too long to make it, hindering the league's ability to start its 10-week fall-winter season on time. Because of the delay, the league will not play in the coming season.

"We have to have enough time to notify other leagues in the area," Berman said, adding that most leagues start in late August or early September. "From a practicality standpoint, it made no sense at this late date to try that," he said.

The girls league sought a seven-hour time block on Sundays at the park's three softball fields, but the city ultimately offered a five-hour slot, O'Connell said.

"I'm pretty disappointed that they turned this down," he said. The offer was intended as a temporary measure while city officials and the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the softball league, tried to resolve the lawsuit.

But Berman said that the city's offer came only after the softball league was thwarted in its efforts to secure fields during the Department of Recreation and Parks' regular application process in June.

"We were told there would not be space available, period. The earliest they could discuss it was mid-August," he said.

On July 17, city officials offered the league a three-hour slot on Sunday mornings, increasing the offer to five hours on July 21. But the arrangement did not allow the league enough time to recruit, enroll and try out players, said Rocio Cordoba, the ACLU attorney handling the lawsuit.

"Girls were in limbo for so long that they had no choice," Cordoba said. "Some of them had to go to other leagues that were outside their area in order to play this fall."

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