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Monday, September 16, 2019

Wellesley opts to play ball with unhappy resident

After a pitch to council, a St. Clements woman will be compensated for vehicle damaged by errant fly ball

A St. Clements woman is finally seeing a financial resolution to a property damage incident that occurred a year ago.

Councillors meeting Tuesday night agreed to pay Shelby Gale $490 to cover repairs to her Jeep, which she says was damaged by a stray ball from the nearby township ball diamonds.

The decision ended a drawn-out process that saw Gale deal with a number of township staff members, have an insurance claim denied, and consult with neighbours to make her case.

It all started last August, when Shelby left the Jeep parked in the driveway of her Peter Street home while away on a family vacation. When Gale returned, she found a dent in the cowl, the area between the hood and the windshield.

“I asked my brother, who was house-sitting, if he had heard or seen anything. At this time, he said he heard two bangs and when he went to investigate, he saw no damage,” explained Gale. “However, upon further investigation, he saw ball players were looking at our house, pointing and staring.”

Around mid-October, Gale took her Jeep to Wellington Motors for a quote on repairs and to get their opinion as to what may have caused the dent.

“Wellington Motors confirmed that the damage was most likely caused by a baseball, and the cost of replacement would have been $489.64 plus tax,” said Gale.

Looking to cover the cost, Gale contacted Wellesley chief administrative officer Rik Louwagie via email in late October. Eventually, she was informed that the township could not cover the cost due to there being no previous complaints about balls leaving the diamond.

Unhappy with the decision, she connected with Ward 4 Coun. Carl Smit, who recommended that she file a complaint through the township insurance provider. Gale then followed through with treasurer Grace Kosch at the township office on Nov. 26, 2018.

After four-and-a-half months, her insurance claim was denied. Discussing the matter this week, Louwagie read an email sent by the insurance pool explaining its decision.

“They conducted an onsite inspection of the park, found that the chain link fencing and backstop appeared to be in good condition and consistent in nature and design for these types of municipal ball fields. There were no deficiencies noted,” said Louwagie.

“There’s also some question whether the claimant would be able to positively establish that the damage occurred as reported without any witnesses and the vague timelines she provided for when she believes it occurred.”

Louwagie noted it was the first complaint since additional netting had been installed in 2017.

Frustrated with the situation, Gale and her parents chatted with neighbours to see if they had ever had concerns with baseballs leaving the diamond. After enough digging, Gale found three separate complaints, and brought them to council’s attention.

“We were able to obtain an invoice from a neighbour at 17 Peter St., that the township paid for a broken window from a ball that left the diamond back in June 2012,” said Gale.

Other complaints came from 21 Peter St. on June 24, 2017, along with a police report. Another neighbour at 59 Park St. provided a written statement that their vehicle windshield was smashed from a homerun ball. According to Gale, that vehicle was parked in the driveway, and the damage was covered by the township.

“Most types of baseballs that leave the diamond end up on lawns or flower beds causing little to no damage. This is part and parcel of living beside the ball diamonds; however all neighbours agree that when monetary damage occurs, our township neighbour should help,” said Gale.

It was enough to hit it home for the councillors, the majority of whom agreed to compensate Gale.

Veronica Reiner
Veronica Reinerhttp://www.observerxtra.com
Veronica Reiner is a Reporter Photographer for The Observer.


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