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Panel pitches proposal for sports complex construction

A proposal by the Lincoln County Multi-Use Building Commissionto allow a non-profit organization to build a sports complex nearthe facility would absolve the county of any costs while retainingall benefits, panel Chairman Pat McCullough said Tuesday.

During Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, McCulloughoutlined a plan composed by it and Lincoln County Youth Sports forthe complex to be built.

“It gives us all of the advantages you had endorsed (under theprevious proposal) and eliminates the disadvantages,” McCulloughsaid.

In December, the commission received approval from supervisorsto continue pursuing a proposal that would add a seven-fieldbaseball complex and allow for overnight stays at the facility.

The new proposal, McCullough said, would still do that, butLincoln County Youth Sports would be “primarily responsible for thedevelopment, construction and maintenance of it.” It would setaside 26.5 of the 38.5 acres of undeveloped land behind thebuilding for the sports complex, which would be constructed,operated and maintained by the youth sports organization on a50-year lease.

The non-profit organization would also pay for and construct thepads and hookups for 30 to 35 motor homes or campers.

Once completed, that portion of the facility would be returnedto the commission for operation and maintenance. The overnightcamping spots would be located in the northwest corner of theproperty across the rear parking lot from the main building.

In addition to the camper hookups, the county would also receive5 percent of the gross of all registration and participation feesand concession sales as well as 50 percent of any gate or parkingfees.

The organization would have six years to get the complexoperational or the lease would return to the county, McCulloughsaid.

“Both sides agree that is sufficient and it acts like a set ofspurs” to move the project forward, he said. “We have a lot ofpeople at Lincoln County Youth Sports really chomping at the bit toget started on this.”

The organization is ready to begin as soon as Feb. 1 with thecounty’s endorsement of the proposal, McCullough said.

The initial plan for the baseball complex calls for sevenbaseball fields – four fields of 185 feet, two fields of 200 feetand one of 300 feet – and parking for approximately 340vehicles.

The fields would predominantly be on the east, or rear, side ofthe existing buildings and adjacent to the Hansel King Sportsplex,which is operated by the Brookhaven Recreation Department.

The two sports complexes would not be in competition with oneanother, said Commission member Dr. William Kimble in announcingthe original plans last month.

“Actually, they should complement one another. You’re reallycatering to two different groups when you’re talking about baseballand softball,” he said.

Supervisors said they have heard nothing but support for theproposal from their constituents.

“We get a lot of positive feedback on this,” said District TwoSupervisor Bobby J. Watts.

Randy Emfinger, who lives on land adjoining the prospectivesports complex, said he supported the project despite the increasein traffic it would bring to his property.

“I’m for it myself, even though it comes right up to my propertyline,” he said. “Managed properly, I don’t see any problems for anyadjoining landowner.”

Supervisors voiced their approval of the proposal, but no votewas necessary.

The commission can move forward on the proposal on its ownauthority, but wanted to keep supervisors comprised of theirefforts and seek their endorsement before continuing, McCulloughsaid.

Board Attorney Bob Allen asked the commission to give him a fewdays to review the legalities of the proposal.

“The deal itself seems to be well thought out and can greatlybenefit the county,” Allen said.

However, he had a few questions concerning the partnership ofgovernmental entities and non-profit organizations he wanted toreview before commenting on it.

“I know it can be done, but I want to be sure it’s donecorrectly,” Allen said.

The sports complex would augment other changes occurring atfacility, McCullough said.

In a review of events at similar facilities across the state,the commission has determined two major events a year could “makeenough money to make it independent,” he said.

In addition, “walk-in” events like reunions and local livestocksales or shows also generate money. The first available Saturday atthe building for an event is in September. All other weekends havebeen booked, McCullough said.

When the commission was formed in June, it was tasked withmaking the facility self-sufficient. In the past eight months, thecommission has reorganized the price structure of the facility,repaired and made improvements to existing features and planned forthe future.

“If you consider where we were June 8 to where we are now, Ithink the commission has done an outstanding job,” said ChanceryClerk Tillmon Bishop.