By QUINT QUALLS
A resolution to deed land to the Spring Hill Little League in the wake of its loss of four fields to the Saturn Parkway extension project will soon come back before the Board of Mayor and Alderman for a vote.
The Board discussed the proposal to deed 20 acres off Derryberry Lane to the little league at last Tuesday’s work session after a unanimous vote to defer last month.
The city has been considering transferring the deed for a 20-acre property off Derryberry Lane to Spring Hill Little League after Alderman Kayce Williams brought the proposal before the Board and revealed the league would soon lose four of its six fields that are in path of the state’s impending extension of Saturn Parkway to Beechcroft Road.
Should the city agree to deed land to Spring Hill Little League, the organization has also committed to walking away from its current sublease on the two baseball fields behind Spring Hill Elementary School near Evans Park, returning them to the city for public use.
Baseball quadplex on 20-acre Derryberry property could cost $3.8 million
Since the item was first proposed, city officials have questioned the financial capabilities of the league to build its desired four-field complex. On Tuesday, the Board of Mayor and Alderman got its first look at a potential cost scenario for the build.
According to the estimates from the Evans Park redesign plans, the fields themselves would represent around one-third of the total cost, with three 150-foot fields with lighting costing $825,000 and one 200-foot field with lighting costing $350,00.
Board remains divided over little league resolution
Some Spring Hill aldermen remain hesitant to approve the resolution to deed the little league property without further information.
“The other thing I’ve asked is for the little league to demonstrate if we can even put a quad on the Derryberry property and what’s the cost,” said Alderman Jonathan Duda. “If you’re asking for $300,000 worth of land, you should at a minimum demonstrate what you’re going to do. I don’t think that’s improper to ask.
“We need to understand what they’re going to do more specifically. I hope we can find some way to work this out, but I’m not at a stage where I can support the reverse-lease pledge resolution before us, even with the three-year time frame. It should be basic to demonstrate whether or not you could put four fields there when there are a lot of engineers are out there telling me you can’t.”
Alderman Amy Wurth has expressed much the same hesitation about deeding the land. Alderman Matt Fitterer said on Tuesday while he had comfort turning the land over when he felt the city had a “legal claw-back,” now he knows the city has no such mechanism, and he does not think it would be responsible to donate the land until the league can demonstrate what it intends to do with it.
Some city officials have expressed more interest in leasing the land to the little league rather than deeding it.
“Where I feel deed is necessary and would be in the best interest is that they are willing to walk away from their sublease on the two fields near Evans Park,” said Alderman Kayce Williams. “If they are constrained with a lease, they are not able to do that and I can understand that. Any of us would have difficulty spending millions on a property we don’t own. With a lease if we decide we want it for something else, the league could have it jerked out from under them.”
At Tuesday’s work session, Alderman Chad Whittenburg said he will support the resolution to deed the league land now that he has been provided with the information he requested.
At past meetings, Whittenburg said he would rather see the city build its own baseball complex.
“I’ve been pretty vocal on this project,” Whittenburg said Tuesday. “I want to thank Thomas (Mencer, league president) and Kayce Williams and the league for getting me info I asked for. I’ve also been vocal about the need to build a state-of-the-art sports complex. I don’t think that’s changed, but talking with people here in the community, it’s evident this site on Derryberry is not going to be built for that project.
“Looking at it now, from going, ‘Alright, can Spring Hill Little League perform and build fields for our constituents and their athletes’ – I wasn’t there, but I am now. I’ve been provided what I needed to get me there. I’m ready to move forward with Spring Hill Little League so they can build them some fields.”
The resolution to deed land to Spring Hill Little League comes back before the Board of Mayor and Alderman for a vote on Sept. 19.
Quint Qualls covers Spring Hill for Home Page Media Group. Reach him at email@example.com.
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