Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Little League field at Milwaukee County's Baran Park, 2600 S. Chase Ave, is shown in this photo. Journey House offered to invest $2.8 million for new baseball fields and a concession pavilion with a kitchen. The Felix Mantilla Little League, managed by Journey House, would be the primary user of the fields.(Photo: Michael Sears/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)Buy Photo

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Journey House will build four new baseball diamonds and a new pavilion with a catering-size kitchen at Baran Park as part of a $2.8 million private investment approved Thursday by the Milwaukee County Board.

The diamonds will be used primarily by the Felix Mantilla Little League, the chief renter at this time of the existing fields. The league is administered by Journey House.

Journey House would schedule open playing time at the baseball diamonds for other groups and charge them a user fee, as the county does now, under the agreement.

The south side nonprofit group also plans to establish two paid internship programs at Baran Park to provide job skills for teenagers, Journey House officials said.

On a 14-2 vote, the board approved a revised 15-year management agreement with Journey House and the opportunity to renew it for an additional 15 years. A 30-year initial term included in the original agreement was reduced in response to criticism of several supervisors that it was too long.

The revised agreement also requires the organization to open the fields free to the public for unscheduled use a minimum of four hours each week.

Supervisors Theodore Lipscomb Sr. and John Weishan Jr. voted against the agreement.

"I'm glad the investment will be made and the community will benefit," Lipscomb said after the vote. His opposition is not a criticism of Journey House, he said, but he believes the agreement gives the organization too much control over public access.

 A sports turf and landscaping internship program for 30 south side youth each year will be responsible for maintaining the diamonds and the remaining parkland at no cost to the county, according to Journey House CEO Michele Bria.

The plan will save the county an estimated $44,000 a year in Baran Park maintenance costs, county officials said.

The new pavilion will house culinary arts and hospitality internships for 48 youth each year, Bria said.

In addition to saving park maintenance costs, the Journey House money would eliminate the need for the county to invest an estimated $144,000 to replace the pavilion and rebuild the parking lot at Baran Park, county officials said.

Related: Journey House's offer of $2.8 million for Baran Park ball fields spurs Milwaukee County public access debate

Related: Former Braves' Felix Mantilla and sons use baseball to build bridges between Milwaukee and Puerto Rico

Baran Park has been the home of the Felix Mantilla Little League since it was established in 1972 and nearly all of its 300 members are from south side neighborhoods close to the park.

The league is named for Mantilla, a former Milwaukee Braves player from 1956 to 1961 and a member of the 1957 World Series champion Braves.

img itemprop="url" src="https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/769ad15d7d780d9aaa9e1f5462ef74045bc83c13/c=1-0-959-720&r=x408&c=540x405/local/-/media/2017/12/07/WIGroup/Milwaukee/636482501598594579-BARAN-PARK-LITTLE-LEAGUE-FIELDS.jpg" alt="The location of baseball fields at Milwaukee County's Baran Park after a $2.8 million private investment by Journey House. The Felix Mantilla Little League will be the primary user of the fields." width="540" height="405" data-mycapture-src="https://www.gannett-cdn.com/media/2017/12/07/WIGroup/Milwaukee/636482501598594579-BARAN-PARK-LITTLE-LEAGUE-FIELDS.jpg" data-mycapture-sm-src="https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/3d5569507733ca056af5edaf0a2a8036c559fb13/r=500x375/local/-/media/2017/12/07/WIGroup/Milwaukee/636482501598594579-BARAN-PARK-LITTLE-LEAGUE-FIELDS.jpg"">>

The location of baseball fields at Milwaukee County's Baran Park after a $2.8 million private investment by Journey House. The Felix Mantilla Little League will be the primary user of the fields. (Photo: Milwaukee County Parks)

In other action Thursday, the board agreed to pay a California "augmented reality" game creator $83,000 to settle a lawsuit prompted by Pokémon Go restrictions in county parks.

The payment to Candy Lab Inc. is reimbursement for the company's costs and legal fees in successfully challenging the county's ordinance. Candy Lab is the maker of the Texas Rope 'Em mobile application game.

The ordinance required creators of location-based augmented reality mobile applications to obtain a permit before they could incorporate park locations in the popular games.

The settlement is the result of a July federal court ruling that found county officials overstepped their legal authority this year and failed to protect the company's free speech rights in attempting to regulate the use of park locations in "augmented reality" games for mobile apps.

The ordinance came in response to the Parks Department's inability in July and August 2016 to hold Niantic Inc. and its Pokémon franchise financially accountable for thousands of dollars in damage done at Lake Park by daily throngs of players.

The county agreed to a permanent injunction against enforcement of the original ordinance, under terms of the settlement.

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Source : https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/local/milwaukee/2017/12/14/milwaukee-county-board-approves-2-8-million-investment-barjourney-house-private-investment-baran-par/950380001/

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