SYLACAUGA – During a work session Tuesday evening, the City Council proposed a possible solution for the future of Little League in the Marble City that will keep the youth baseball organization playing games at Wingard Park through at least 2024 and scraps the idea of merging it with another entity.
In late December, the council had the city attorney write a letter informing the Sylacauga Little League Association of the council’s intention to terminate the contract for the use of city-owned playing fields in Wingard Park.
The letter basically said Little League had no right to “said facilities and shall cease use of Wingard Park on or before Dec. 20, 2018.”
The council wanted to merge the two youth baseball leagues, Little League and Cal Ripken, operating in the municipality, unifying them as one organization operated by the city Parks and Recreation Department.
With the merger, the council believed funds and future recreation projects could better provide for youth baseball and improve the lives of residents participating in organized sports in the city.
Little League supporters have expressed displeasure over the council’s termination of the contract, indicating they prefer remaining independent of the city.
Tuesday evening, council President Lee Perryman said he and Councilwoman Tiffany Nix had spoken with the Parks and Recreation Department about the issue.
“I think we have an agreement that the Parks and Recreation Department will be the landlord for the Little League, taking the organization out from under the city’s control,” Perryman said. “The city will continue to pay for the utilities for the fields.
“There are two minor issues that would change. These would be there would be no possibility to cancel the contract since Parks and Recreation would be the landlord. Also, Little League would have many years of protection with the commitment to continue until Dec. 21, 2024.”
Perryman said a new contract will be drafted in the weeks ahead if everyone agreed with the suggestion.
Rocky Sims, president of the Little League board, and other supporters said they favored the proposal.
“If everyone agrees, you will just have a different landlord. The city will pay the light bills. This should make everyone happy,” Perryman said.
Sims said he thought everyone was happy. But a supporter of girls softball, which has a contract with Little League to play on its fields, wanted assurance softball was safe.
Perryman said softball would have to work with Little League because it had a contract with the youth baseball organization. Sims said the softball and Little League boards would meet and talk about their contract.
“We’ll figure this all out,” Perryman said.
Nix said the council will work to make sure everyone is satisfied with the decision.
Councilman Dallas Davenport said, “We will be fair to everybody.”
The council president concluded by saying the resolution on this issue can be completed “pretty fast.”
In the council’s regular meeting following the work session, the panel approved a request from Sylacauga City Schools Superintendent Dr. Todd Freeman for withdrawal of $420,000 from the 18.5 ad valorem tax reserve fund.
Freeman explained to the council that the funds will be used for the school district’s building and operations, including insurance, technology infrastructure improvements (including the district’s Chromebook initiative), safety upgrades and projects related to an insurance audit.
In other business, the council:
Adopted an ordinance for an easement across city-owned property behind the former Stanton’s retail store at 201 N. Broadway Ave.;
Approved a resolution declaring police Sgt. Mike Smith’s badge and firearm as surplus property and approving the presentation of them to Smith upon his retirement;
Approved a resolution accepting a contribution from the Sylacauga Utilities Board and authorizing the expenditure of $10,000 to the Sylacauga Arts Council Marble Festival fund to be used to promote the city, its marble resources and history, and to help defray expenses of promoting and hosting the Magic of Marble Festival, April 3-14;
Approved a resolution accepting a $24,000 grant to be used to purchase 24 Taser units for the Police Department;
Authorized the seeking of bids on repair/improvement projects for various city-owned buildings, with projects based upon the recommendations of interim building/code Director Mike Whetstone in conjunction with Lathan & Associates;
Authorized the extensions of various construction related permits at the request of Blue Bell Creameries that were purchased in 2015 during the company’s planned expansion project, which was halted due to unforeseen circumstances;
Authorized the posting and advertising of the position of construction work II at the request of street Superintendent Reed Calfee;
Revised the job description for firefighter full-time and firefighter part-time at request of fire Chief Adam Gardner;
Approved a request from the Sylacauga Planning Commission to authorize funding for a legal review relative to the bond/assurance requirements of the proposed subdivision regulations;
Approved a refund to Linda Chance for animal shelter canine adoption fees after she was unable to keep the animal;
Approved travel and expenses for police Chief Kelley Johnson and Capt. Rondell Muse to attend a winter conference for police officers in Montgomery; and for the mayor, council and city clerk to attend the Alabama League of Municipalities 2018 annual convention in Montgomery; and
Approved accounts payable of $768,157.43.
The next council meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 6 p.m. in the Faye Hosey Council Chambers at the Municipal Complex.