Posted on 06 April 2017.
By Judy Reed
Vandals have once again taken aim at Skinner Field, this time vandalizing the outside of the locker room with graffiti.
According to Jerry Gross, a member of Friends of Skinner Field, the damage was discovered Wednesday, March 29. He said it cannot be washed off, and will need to be repainted. No one reported seeing the crime.
“They (the vandals) are defacing public property,” said Gross. “Skinner Field belongs to the City, and we oversee the property and are trying to keep it nice. We would really like to ask for the public’s assistance with that.”
The Skinner Field concession stand and several outbuildings were also broken into last fall. No one reported hearing anything at that time either, though there would’ve been some noise to break open the back door. The suspects were caught after police distributed surveillance footage of them that was taken inside the concession stand.
Why is Skinner Field important?
The short answer is that it is a piece of Cedar Springs history and worth preserving.
Skinner Field was named after J.A. (Bert) Skinner, a leading citizen and businessman. He owned Skinner’s Drug Store, which was located at 43 S. Main Street, the vacant lot where we now hold the Christmas tree lighting. According to the Cedar Springs Story by Sue Harrison and Donna DeJonge, Skinner started work at the age of 13 in a local drug store, and later set a record as the youngest person to pass the state pharmaceutical board. He was given his pharmaceutical license when he turned 18.
Skinner served as village president for 25 years, and was president of the board of education for 25 years. He was a state senator for two terms, and involved in Republican politics all during his life. On Friday, July 6, 1948, the Village of Cedar Springs paid tribute to Bert Skinner, and part of the tribute was the dedication of Cedar Springs Public School’s lighted athletic field, on the west side of Morley Park.
In 1991, a gift was given to the school district, to construct a running track at the field. An agreement signed by both the school and city made it available for both school athletic events and the community to run on. It was created partly on school property and partly on city property, with the school district responsible for maintenance for a period of 99 years, or until they relocated the field and running track, which they did, in the mid-2000s, when they built Red Hawk Stadium. The City later took ownership, but did not have the money to maintain it. The Friends of Skinner Field was formed, and they have renovated the field, which hosts many athletic events, including Rocket football.
If you see or hear anything suspicious at Skinner Field, please contact the Kent County Sheriff Department by calling 911. If you know anything about the vandalism, you may contact non-emergency dispatch at (616) 632-6100 and ask for an officer to take a report.