Town of Waukesha uncaps Five Diamonds' alcohol plan for Infinity Fields
Modified plan moves forward, though owner must still get liquor license
Mike Laska painted a dark picture of what he believes could be the possibilities that can come from allowing alcohol to be sold at a youth baseball and softball complex.
"I envision something that's very, very sad," said Laska, a former town of Waukesha supervisor, at last week's joint Plan Commission and Waukesha Town Board meeting. "I envision little Tommy Jones Jr. whacking a home run, happy as all get-out. I envision Tommy Sr. say 'Hey son, I'm going to have another beer. Take your time taking your cleats off.' I envision Tommy Sr. pulling out on Les Paul Parkway at 45 mph. Tommy Sr. survives and Tommy Jr. is pushing up daisies at Prairie Home Cemetery."
Laska was just one of many who spoke at the town board's May 8 meeting against allowing Five Diamonds Inc. to change its plan of operation to include the ability to sell alcohol at the Infinity Fields complex, which sits on more than 31 acres of land at West Les Paul Parkway on Highway 59.
Nevertheless, Laska and many other town residents left disappointed after the town board voted 3-2 to amend Five Diamonds' plan of operation.
Waukesha County must grant final approval of the amended plan, and Five Diamonds would then also have to obtain a Class B liquor license from the Town of Waukesha before alcohol can be served.
While the Plan Commission unanimously recommended the facility's amended plan, which also included altering the closing time and a sound system at the facility, members were concerned about selling beer.
"I do not support alcohol at youth events," said Dan Buchholtz, town of Waukesha fire chief and Plan Commission member. "I think that's a really poor example to set. It's poor leadership."
Split board has its say
But Buchholtz and others still voted for the change, saying the town board would do what they wanted anyway.
Town of Waukesha Chairman John Marek, who was joined by Supervisors Brian Fischer and Jim Radke in approving the amended plan of operation, said that with some "common sense, limitations and restrictions," allowing alcohol can work.
"We need to stop micromanaging a private business and allow (owner Tom Kelenic) to promote and operate his business," said Marek, who acknowledged he was originally opposed to the facility before it was built.
Radke agreed that he didn't feel the board had the authority to tell a business not to sell alcohol when it's within the law.
Supervisors Larry Wolf and Michael Doerr voted against the amended plan of operation, with Wolf voicing his adamant opposition to the sale of alcohol.
Owner: Alcohol 'the norm'
When the Five Diamonds complex, now called Infinity Fields, opened in 2012, Kelenic said alcohol wouldn't be part of the equation. When asked during the meeting what has changed, Kelenic said he's getting more requests for it.
"We have teams from all over the country (coming)," Kelenic said. "It's a vacation experience for the parents."
Kelenic added that when his teams are traveling to baseball and softball complexes around the state and country, alcohol is typically being sold at these facilities. That's the case at The Rock Sports Complex in Franklin, as one example.
"In today's age, I don't want to say (it's being done) everywhere, but it's our experience traveling the country, ... it's the norm," Kelenic said.
Against alcohol at site
However, Sandy Hamm, who lives on Milky Way Road just southeast of the fields, said if people want to have a vacation experience they should support local businesses.
"I don't know why, after all the talk about the business that this facility was going to bring to the town, we're not letting the people who are on vacation go (to local restaurants and bars)," Hamm said. "There's lots of places that sell alcohol. We don't need to sell it at a youth baseball park."
Per WIAA rules, the site could not sell alcohol during Catholic Memorial High School games, a school that utilizes the facility during its season, a fact noted by Angie E. Van Scyoc, former town chairwoman.
Van Scyoc wondered aloud that if the WIAA doesn't feel that alcohol should be served during high school games, why should it be OK to sell it for youth games, which will mainly be the Waukesha Blazers organization.
Despite the opposition, it isn't likely the county will stand in the face of the town's decision, however.
Kathleen Cummings, city of Waukesha alderwoman and a Waukesha County supervisor, said when the plan comes to the county for approval, "it's more of a courtesy and not much happens and it will probably be approved."
'Drug of choice'
But Cummings refused to put her personal stamp of approval on the idea, referencing drunken driving statistics in Waukesha County from 2013. She said there were more than 700 reported cases of drivers operating while under the influence with 135 being first-time offenses, 519 being second through fourth offenses and 89 fifth offenses.
"It is our drug of choice in Waukesha County," Cummings said. "As grown-ups can't we lead by example and not have alcohol at our youth function? We lead by example and as parents we lead by example. Can't we not drink alcohol for two or three hours, can't we not serve it for two or three hours? I mean this is about making money."
While his son voted for it, Marek's father, Richard, spoke out against the use of alcohol at youth games.
"I don't know that alcohol would be an introductory drug of choice to something harder, but it sure is a good start," Richard Marek said. "In my opinion, no is the answer."
Other Five Diamonds changes
· The facility will stay open until 11 p.m., but the field lights must be turned off by 10:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday and can't be turned on before 7 a.m. The facility's original plan had the complex shut down by 9:30 p.m. Kelenic wanted an 11 p.m. closing time to take into account injuries and weather issues.
· Employees can mow the facility between 7 a.m. and dusk. This gave the applicant an additional half-hour in the morning and another hour in the morning on weekends.
· The board removed a condition in the plan of operation that said the property shall follow Waukesha School District policy for drugs, alcohol and tobacco use.
· A voice amplification system can be used 15 times, a change from only allowing it to be used for three charitable fundraisers. Catholic Memorial, however, had been previously using voice amplification in violation of the conditional-use permit.
· The facility's indoor facility was removed from the site's plan of operation. Kelenic said building an indoor facility would now take away 80 parking stalls, something he didn't want to get rid of.
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