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Dispute between flag football league organizer and municipality coming to council - FlagSpin

Dispute between flag football league organizer and municipality coming to council

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Details of a dispute between the operator of a flag football league in Chatham’s Lark Park and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent is coming to Monday’s council meeting.

Jason Reynolds took to social media recently claiming the municipality has continued to put up roadblocks to keep him from running his league after he received a notice of trespass from Chatham-Kent that warned he could face a $2,000 fine if he continues to cut a large section of grass in the park, where games are played.

An information report on Monday’s council agenda, posted on the municipal website, alleges Reynolds has been ignoring numerous requests since 2019 to stop cutting the grass in Lark Park.

“Mr. Reynolds is welcome and encouraged to utilize the park for sporting activities provided he complies with the same council-approved policies and procedures as all other groups using municipal parks,” stated the report.


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The report is in response to questions and concerns posted on social media about the issue.

Chatham-Kent chief administrative officer Don Shropshire said the comment section of Facebook posts by Reynolds showed a lot of people were upset by the municipality’s actions, so Mayor Darrin Canniff wanted residents to understand the reasons behind the municipality’s position.

He added the municipality doesn’t want residents to think it’s not promoting youth and adults taking part in physical activity.

“That’s absolutely not true.”

Reynold, though, said he has actively been trying to work with the municipality “all year” to resolve their dispute.

“They’re just trying to paint a picture that it’s the other way around and it’s not,” he said.

Reynolds said he cuts the grass in that section of the park to make it easier for the younger players to run on the field and learn the game.

“I just want to have the grass cut for my kids when they are going to play ball, nothing more,” Reynolds said.

However, the municipality points out there are liability issues associated with having someone who is not under contract and doesn’t have proper insurance cutting grass in a public park.

Shropshire said the only reason the letter about trespassing was sent to Reynolds is because he had been ignoring several requests to not cut the grass in Lark Park.

The report noted the municipality became aware of the league in the fall of 2018 through neighbourhood complaints of loud noise, alcohol consumption and public urination in Lark Park.


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The report also cited an adult flag football tournament held in January 2019 that caused about $2,000 of damage to the grass. The report stated the municipality contacted the organizer, who agreed to make repairs at his expense, but noted the repairs were eventually completed at taxpayers’ expense.

“I fully admit we did tear up the field,” said Reynolds, adding the pitch was frozen and snow-covered when play began, but was quite muddy by the end of the day.

However, he said he contacted the municipality on  a Monday – the day afternoon the tourney – to inform them of the damage and set up a meeting to discuss the situation.

Reynolds said a sponsor, who owns a landscaping business, came to that meeting and offered to repair the grass at no charge to the city or to him.

“But the city refused to let them do that,” he said.

The report does note municipal officials met with Reynolds in March 2019 to discuss the park damage and mutually develop a solution.

According to the report, Reynolds agreed to formally book the park, follow all policies and procedures, provide evidence of $2-million liability insurance for players, pay the required fees for field use and tournaments, and eliminate any drinking and smoking on the field.

In turn, the municipality offered to have the grass cut more often and provide a portable washroom and garbage containers.

Although proof of insurance has been provided for last year’s league play, and reservations for the park have been made, the report states there have been a number of times over the past two years when fees were not paid for both the adult and youth leagues.


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Shropshire said there are 103 other groups using parks across Chatham-Kent, and all of them have found a way to comply with municipal requirements without a problem.

“To me, this has snowballed into a whole bunch of extra noise that it doesn’t need to be, so that the city doesn’t have to address … (what) we’re asking them to do,” Reynolds said.

He said he doesn’t run the league as a business, only charging enough to cover its costs. He noted the men’s football league he’s run for the past 30 years has maintained the same registration fee of $40.

Reynolds said he just wants to give Chatham-Kent kids something positive to do that will help keep them from going down the wrong path.

“From our perspective, we’re trying to turn down the heat,” Shropshire said, “but the reality is we need to have him stop cutting the grass.”

He said the municipality wants to get the kids and adults back on the field in a way that’s safe for the community.


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Travis Burnett

Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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