Councilor-At-Large Leo Robinson wants the City Council to step up to the plate for youth sports organizations in the city.
At Monday night’s council meeting, Robinson requested that City Manager Thomas Ambrosino consider setting aside some of the city’s free cash surplus to set up a new grant program for youth sports in Chelsea.
The grant would be available for Chelsea nonprofits running sports leagues such as softball and baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and tennis.
“We have people out here who volunteer their time, give time away from their families, and I think it is time that the City Council steps up and gives them some money,” said Robinson. “We give a lot of money to nonprofits, and I think this stuff relates to prevention.”
There was some initial confusion that the request by Robinson would replicate a similar grant program in the city.
However, Councilor-At-Large Damali Vidot and Robinson both noted that the grant program approved several years ago provides scholarships for students to take part in youth programs.
Robinson said his request was to provide funding directly to the appropriate leagues.
Vidot said she would be in favor of providing support for youth sports leagues, but would want to make sure they were effectively supporting kids in the city.
“We are so limited here with the resources in sports and sporting activities that we provide our kids,” she said. “I give full credit to the people who have given their time to run these sports organizations, but I think there has to be a way of measuring the success of the quality (of the programs. I get a lot of complaints about some of the sports programs and their money not being used or coaches not showing up and disorganization.
“As long as we continue to invest in our sports programs, I want to make sure kids get what they need out of it.”
Robinson said the scholarship programs don’t give money directly to the programs.
“My argument here is that we need to be giving money to the programs so we don’t have kids out here canning and begging for money,” he said. “We should step up and make these things happen.”
Council President Roy Avellaneda said he supported the motive of the motion, but noted that free cash would be a one-time fix for the issue.
He noted that there is pending legislation in the State House that would establish linkage fees related to new development in the city, and that some of that money could be earmarked for youth sports programs.