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Take me out to the bathroom

   No one denies that the 1,000-plus kids and adults who participate in the Central Amherst Little League deserve real bathrooms with running water and flushing toilets.

   But who should be paying for them?

   Amherst town officials said that in the past, the town has agreed to provide water and sewer lines to youth sports organizations, while the organizations themselves raised the money needed to construct the actual building.

   But in the case of the Central Amherst Little League, council members agreed to cover both the water- and sewer-line costs, as well as the restroom portion of the new building, which also will include a snack stand and picnic pavilion.

   Some argued that such generosity - in this case, $185,000 that will likely deplete the town's recreation fees account - will set an unhealthy financial precedent when other nonprofit sports organizations come forward asking for similar assistance.

   But others said that it's clear that the Central Amherst Little League is in a unique circumstance, hosting the only northtowns league for children and young adults who are developmentally delayed.

   Porta-potties are not an option for most of them, they said.

   In addition, the organization is responsible for raising roughly $65,000 to cover the remaining construction costs for the building and is looking ahead to other long-term improvements that will require aggressive fund raising efforts for years to come.

   --- Sandra Tan

Will old habits resurface?

   If $4 a gallon was a tipping point that led people to change their driving habits, at one point does it tip back?

   That question may have occurred to you if, like me, you have made some drastic changes in the way you get around. I'm still sold on the bus and train, as I wrote in my column today,   and I'll still be going Metro even if the price of gas continues to fall.

   How about you? Will you keep riding your bike until the first snowflake flies? Will the car pool spring a leak? Or did you barely blink as the price of gas shot up?

   --- Bruce Andriatch

Maybe three isn't the magic number

   Ever since Kevin Gaughan first raised the issue of downsizing government boards, I have been trying to find a community that has one. Through some combination of the terms "three-member," "board" and "New York" on Google, I came across Cherry Valley.

   But Google missed the part where the Town Board will grow to five members following the 2009 election.

   The supervisor there told me three is fraught with problems. Gaughan, who also had not heard that the board was growing, disagrees.

   Gaughan likes to paraphrase this quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he responds to people who say cutting the number of people on a local board won't really haven an impact: "It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something."

   They've tried a three-member board in Cherry Valley. Should we try it here?

  --- Bruce Andriatch

Games people play

   Sometimes when I write a column, I'll search the Web to see if anyone has trod this ground before. At best, you find that maybe you had an original thought, at worst you find out that a topic has been written to death.

   If you look up stories that have the words "kids, parents and coaches," the theme generally goes like this: Parents yell at kids, parents yell at coaches, parents yell at each other, coaches yell at kids, parents and each other, coaches and parents occasionally stop yelling long enough to assault other coaches and parents and kids and each other.

   You won't find a lot written about the joy of youth sports, of bonding with other parents, of watching kids have fun while they compete.

   I'm fortunate to know that's what has happened to me. Tell me what your experience has been.

   And maybe the next time you look up "kids, parents and coaches," you'll come across this.

   --- Bruce Andriatch