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After Park District Dispute, Mokena Burros Find New Field: UPDATED

After the park district wouldn't rent to the youth football organization, the Mokena Burros will play this season's games on private property at Route 30 and Wolf Road.

After the park district would not rent fields to , the youth football and cheer program found their own space to play—the vacant Meijer development at Route 30 and Wolf Road.

"We are thrilled to have been able to reach this agreement for our upcoming season," Dan LaValle, Burros board member and liaison for the recent lease negotiations said in a statement released Friday morning. "We want to personally thank Meijer Corporation in particular for their support of our program."

This comes six days before 2012 registration for the 49-year-old program. Until now, the Burros always played at Mokena's .

Earlier this week, park district Executive Director Jim Romanek said they would not rent fields to the Burros after the group returned an affiliation agreement edited with changes the district did not agree to.

This follows , including one incident last season where a coach was disciplined for throwing a child to the ground and calling him insulting names.

In an incident witnessed on surveillance tape by the SouthtownStar, a woman stole a stack of fliers for the Mokena Jr. Griffins youth football program from the park district offices.

Romanek told the SouthtownStar that, after the incident was reported in the media, a stack of fliers was returned about three weeks later with a note signed by the wife of a Burros board member that "This is far more than I took. I’ll wait to see this in the papers. Thanks."

"At this time, we feel it's not in our best interest to affiliate ourselves with the Burros organization," Romanek told Patch on Tuesday.

Two-Minute Warning

This left a nail-biter for Mokena parents of children who wanted to participate in youth football and cheer.

Do they wait to see what happens before Burros' March 8 first registration or do they join , which is holding registration tomorrow?

"It feels like the town is being torn," parent Darlene Kruse said on Wednesday.

, the Jr. Griffins board said the dispute is between the park district and the Burros, not the Griffins and the Burros.

"(We) sincerely hope that all football, cheer, and flag players find a comfortable place to play, regardless of what organization name is on the front of the jersey," the letter read in part.

On Thursday morning, Romanek sent an e-mail to the Burros re-opening talks over the affiliation agreement. According to the SouthtownStar, that e-mail included a requirement the Burros change its leadership before getting park district fields.

As of 7 p.m. Thursday, Burros officials said talks were continuing.

Shortly before 9 a.m. Friday, the Burros announced the new field.

New Field in Play

In their announcement, the Burros said the 15-acre property adjacent to the Mokena Marketplace shopping center at Route 30 and Wolf Road "is ideally located and provides both ample parking and nearby amenities including many restaurants and retail outlets."

The vote by the Burros board was unanimous, the announcement said.

First registration for the Burros 2012 season will be from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 8 at . Second registration will be from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 22 at the school. Visit the Burros website for more information.

This story will be updated as it develops.

Updated at 2:18 p.m. Friday with information from the SouthtownStar and the Jr. Griffins letter to the editor.

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parent March 02, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Burros could not control themsleves being under contact under a code of conduct with mpd now they answer to no one on private property good luck it is going to be a free for all just like people wrote on other posts now we don't have to hide our solo cups from the park district any more we can really tail gate you now have board that answers to no one just like they wanted it the the dictatorship begin.
My two cents March 02, 2012 at 07:50 PM
I'm concerned about the field conditions on this vacant Meijer property. Most farmland and/or vacant land is very uneven and not really conducive to playing sports. While I am thrilled that the Burros have found a space, I am concerned that my son may end up twisting his ankle in a hole or rut on this new field. Are the Burros planning to re-grade and seed the property? Just wanting to get all the facts before I sign my son up. Another thing that I can't find the answer to: Is the coach who got into trouble last year still coaching for the Burros? Did he go to the Junior Griffins? I really think it would be advantageous to find out this information as well. Go BURROS!!! I really hope I can keep my son playing for you!
Pam Widule March 02, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Not at all. If your son wants to play for Jr. Griffins....let him. For the Burros....let him. It's all about a choice. But that choice should be YOURS and not anyone else or any other organization. In my opinion, the Griffins wanted to come in and take over and shut the Burros out. That was their agenda, what with the PD Board members on their board. We won't play each other, neither team is better than the other. It's all a choice. Make the right one for your family.
Mokena Fan March 02, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Yes, the coach that got in trouble last year is a coach for the Burros. And, they also made him a board member.
DR- Mokena March 02, 2012 at 08:13 PM
OMG...have you seen that piece of land or better yet walked it? I worked on that project as heavy equipment operator. It will be very treachorous out there. Lots of objects sticking out of the ground. Be careful Burro kids and have fun.
parent March 02, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Were they going to get the money to not only excavate the playing field what about the practice fields most vacant land next to newer construction sites are dumping grounds for unused material there could be a lot of. Hidden dangers right near the top soil
Football Fan March 02, 2012 at 08:29 PM
People, go directly to the Burros with your questions instead of reading false information posted here. Please don't believe everything you read. I would hope Mokena Fan and DR-Mokena have their facts straight before spouting untruths. Burros email is info@mokenaburros.com. Joe Lentz is the Burros President, contact him as well.
Mokena Fan March 02, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Football Fan. Are you saying that the board member that got in trouble last year for the he treated a player is not coaching next year?
parent March 02, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Yeah u can get the truth from the burros they will they do not hide anything what joke
carole March 02, 2012 at 09:34 PM
While I agree with you I have seen many times that the land we were using through the park district wasn't great either. Look at some of the areas that the kids played flag football at. Hmmm...not good. The Burros did a lot to the main park especially the field but that is water under the bridge now,isn't it?
John Waskew March 03, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Hey all. I heard from someone that one of the reasons Meijer didn't build on that land was because they found high concentration levels of radon and lead in the soil and it was too costly to have it cleaned up. And your going to let our kids play there? Anyone else hear this?
john bruno March 03, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Just a stupid, stupid Executive Director. I would fire him for losing the Burros program that has been in existence and playing on the Mokena Park District fields for 49 years. Shame, shame on you, Mr. Executive Director, who, hopefully, will soon be fired.
Mary March 03, 2012 at 01:16 AM
@John, I have not heard this. Can you please site your source so that we can find out the truth.
John T March 03, 2012 at 01:27 AM
John, I agree with you! What an absolute mess. The Park District should be ashamed of themselves for their actions. This is about the children of Mokena. Their parents pay the taxes to run the parks. If they want to play for the Burros or the Griffins they should be able to play on plark district land! The Village of Mokena should be getting involved since they distribute the tax dollars to the parks. I will repeat what you said...shame on you executive director and the park board members for going along with this.
Mokena Fan March 03, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Wait a minute. What about the burros board? What about their actions over the past couple of weeks? Aren't they supposed to held accountable for their actions? The Burros board had a chance to make this right and they refused. why don't you clean your own house before telling others to clean theirs?
Tired March 03, 2012 at 11:06 AM
This is beginning to sound a lot like the other website that was filled with a bunch of garbage. If you have any concerns, contact the Burros directly. There was a great deal of time and energy put into finding a place for the organization to practice that was safe and convenient for all.
Jane McGinn March 03, 2012 at 01:34 PM
@ John T - the Village does NOT distribute money to the parks. The Park DISTRICT is its own taxing body no different than the Village. That is why they have an elected board just like the Village board of trustees
Sam Weste March 03, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Safe and convenient?? Don't you mean available and cheap? Give me a break!!
Ella March 03, 2012 at 03:21 PM
After reading all the articles, it seems that the Burros have not changed at all. The attitude of their board is to stick it to everyone. They felt they were better than everyone else and did not need to sign the agreement the other organizations did. The attitudes of some of their fans, especially Pat Patrick and his comments, highlights a group I would never want my children associated with. Good luck to the children that stay with Burros. I feel sorry for them that will be still be involved with the board and coaches that made this entire mess.
Garfield March 03, 2012 at 03:27 PM
It's not about choice but certainly a control issue. Who has it and who wants it. Someone should come up with a doctrine that puts the kids first, above all else. No parental ego reinforcement, no 'win at all costs' agenda. Help and let these kids learn the game. If you ask these kids why they join a football league not one of them will answer 'to win'. Try it. They want to play. They want to be part of something. For those that need to use these youngsters to fulfill their own childhood dreams go ahead and start an adult flag football program. Let the kids learn how to coach the adults. The parents will soon understand how these kids feel. Maybe not, with the kids calling the shots all the BS will disappear.
carole March 03, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Ella,I guess that is good for you as you have a choice now. Of course you always had a choice as you could have gone to another team in the nearby communities. Don't feel sorry for the children signing up with the Burro's or Jr Griffins. Just sign up and volunteer more so you see what is really happening. If you don't want your child to be in either program then say so without all of this whining. But I hope your child doesn't like baseball as that is the next group on the table. Oh, I know they have signed the agreement but where do they stand when 6 other teams present themselves at the last minute. Did you ever think how many diamonds we are limited to? I know the answer to that...there is plenty of room(sound familiar). Oh, this started with the Burro's but this will go throughout the PD. I thought this was an experienced director but he seems to take advice from 2 on his board that started the Jr. Griffins. You better hope they don't like baseball. Oh no...that is not a conflict(ha!) I'm sure you won't mind games that go well into the night on the lit diamonds!!
Mokena mom March 03, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Totally uncalled comment Jim. Seems that you are a bit jealous that the person you just slammed is in good shape and can keep up with the boys. At least he is not like most dads in this town who are out of shape and cannot take the time to volunteer at a game, let alone come out and watch their children play. Shame on you for that comment.
Pat Patrick March 03, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Jim, do you want a bitter table for one.
knightforlife March 04, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Shame on everyone. It's little league football, and yes, the coach that shoved the boy down, is still coaching for the burros, as is still a board member. Fact. The burros board is still letting him coach, because the parent of the boy didn't press charges. So that makes it o.k. send ur kids to the griffins.
Burro supporter for clean coaches March 04, 2012 at 05:35 PM
The alleged abuse was not that he pushed a kid down. He did grab the face mask of the boy, which I do not condone. But let's get the facts straight before you start bashing anybody. I wish that person would resign, or better yet, when the Burros board votes, PLEASE, PLEASE do not reinstate is coaching career.
PATCH ADAMS March 06, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Volunteers that want to Coach have to submit an application and once compiled either for Head Coach or Assistant will be put together with groups. The names are then submitted for approval (yay/nay). Once approved ALL coaches have to complete a league mandated USA Football Certification and background check other wise NO coaching. So you all have your facts straight the "Coach" DID NOT push the kid down as quoted in the paper by the MPD. The coach did confront the kid and was later reprimanded for that action and dismissal for any future actions and agreed upon with the kids mother. For those that understand the game when a kid misses an assignment several times in a row and his team mate gets blasted it gets a little frustrating which caused the verbal attack on the kid. I'm not condoning the verbal attack, but he did apologize to the kid and his parent. The MPD President and JG co-founder tried to enforce action, but his slanderous and unfounded remarks were dismissed due to attorney intervention. The field issue wouldn't be a problem, but the MPD President and JG co-founder I understand put language in that would penalize any assocation to the program for farting in the park. The timing of the MPD not accepting the agreement in time for the JG's 2nd signing since the numbers were weak and stalling so people would believe there were no fields to play on. If you don't like a board member come VOTE when the elections are up so you can be a voice. .
Forever burros always will be March 07, 2012 at 01:49 AM
He griffins suck took main park from took our color go take some one elses field but don't mess with us burros burros r strong and won't back down the park district suck they should let there home team stay and we been there since who knows ...:) I'm letting my son and daughter do burros and not griffins ... Say crap an burros but back of we will get u guys griffins back .... I'm willing to protest against the district who's cares u griffins and the park district suck .. Who the park districts new fav who what the stupied griffins :)..!!!!??
The truth March 07, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Really? Perhaps Burros parents shouldn't be worried about getting wasted while their 7 and 10 year olds learn to play football...Its sad these parents cant stay sober on a saturday afternoon.....I have a great idea...set down your precious solo cup and be a role model
The truth March 07, 2012 at 02:12 AM
...and I am glad to see an executive who will stand up to a burros board who doesnt want to play by the rules...
Dorothy March 07, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Just read several posts on that other blog website that claim Meijer Corporate Office Real Estate Division is denying signing anything, that they are still in discusion phase, and are hesitant due to fragmentation of the community. Can Patch verify the veracity of this information?

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