Circuit Judge Ronald L. Pirrello has held three hearings with concerned parties for the purchase of land at Roy Gayle Baseball Complex from Service Corporation International (S.C.I.) of Houston, Texas, since last fall.
Due to a crowded court calendar and unavoidable delays with the court system and circumstances beyond either partys control, the trial has been postponed from April 10 until Oct. 2, 2006.
July 14, 2005, the Winnebago Park District filed eminent domain proceedings to acquire the land for sale by the owner at a fair market price. Through preliminary negotiations between all parties, S.C.I. has granted permission for Roy Gayle baseball to continue using the fields until the completion of litigation. Meanwhile, a record number of youth have registered to play baseball this summer at Roy Gayle; more than 1,300 boys and girls will begin play later this month.
Since that time, both parties have met to continue seeking an understanding and compromise on the issues to avoid the eminent domain court proceedings, according to Mark Murray, president of the Winnebago Park District.
Roy Gayle Baseball Complex has been in existence at the South Meridian Road site for 43 years. Pony Baseball/Softball begins play in mid-April and ends in late July. The all-volunteer organization has invested heavily in the baseball/softball complex, which has seven baseball diamonds (three of them lighted), concessions, parking and bleachers, all of which were developed over many years by parents and volunteers, with local donations. The intense fund-raising efforts to purchase the land and make necessary improvements by members of the organization have yielded approximately $500,000 to assist in purchasing the park and making many necessary infrastructure renovations. A matching grant from the state of Illinois to purchase the park was approved in March through the efforts of the Rockford Park District, and will be held over until the completion of litigation.
From the May 10-16, 2006, issue