Town Moves Quickly On Field Of Dreams

Published 5:14 pm Tuesday, October 2, 2012

FARMVILLE – When the Prince Edward Farmville Youth Association asked the Town of Farmville to purchase the Field of Dreams from STEPS two and a half years ago, it's doubtful its members expected a full renovation and artificial turf.

But the Town, which paid $770,854.20 for the Field of Dreams, is going to do just that, hiring Hurt & Proffitt to develop plans and specifications for the project to be done in phases in time for next summer's state tournament.

Farmville's town council acted to save the fields for the organization-STEPS needed to sell the property to pay off a mortgage secured by the property-and has fully embraced ownership responsibilities.

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Prince Edward County was ready to step up to the plate, too, and purchase the property from STEPS but PEFYA's board of directors, with its own option to buy the property set to expire, chose the Town of Farmville, making the decision during Town Council's March 10, 2010 council meeting.

PEFYA was concerned with possibly damaging its relationship with whichever governing body would be left out of the deal-and felt caught in the middle-but those fears came to nothing.

The Town, in fact, made it clear from the get-go that they were open to, and hoped for, County partnership.

Indeed, the County was invited last month to participate in the renovation plans. Board of Supervisors Chairman William G. “Buckie” Fore, Vice-Chairman Howard Simpson and County Administrator Wade Bartlett met in closed session with Town Council on September 18 to discuss the situation.

There are renovation needs at the Prince Edward County High School football-baseball field complex and County officials apparently believe their investment focus must be on the public schools' needs.

Town Manager Gerald Spates said he fully understood the County's position and said there is no animosity at all between the two governing bodies over the Field of Dreams project.

Town Council's motion 30 months ago to buy the property from STEPS was made by council member Sally Thompson, who said, “I move that we go ahead and accept this project and put our vote in, our money in the pot, and that we go ahead with this project. This is for the youth of this town and this county and I don't think we can afford to not undertake this project. We are already involved. It is important to us.”

STEPS' Executive Director Sharon Harrup explained to The Herald then that “the timing is just right for us to try to sell (the property) because it's just we need the revenue and we need to pay off the mortgage is the bottom line.”

The timing is now just right, Town officials believe, to make investments in the Field of Dreams to capitalize on the location of the facility in the center of the state and attract tournaments that will boost the local economy, in addition to improving the facility for local youths.

The Town is also going to incorporate use and scheduling of the Field of Dreams within its Department of Recreation and is prepared to hire additional staff to ensure smooth operation of the facility.

“I think everybody's agreed that the Field Of Dreams needs to be updated,” Town Manager Gerald Spates told The Herald. “It's a good economic tool. It brings a lot of people, a lot of people come in for tournaments and spend money and we feel we're in a prime spot being in the central part of the state.”