Field Of Dreams Public Hearing

Published 4:40 pm Thursday, March 14, 2013

FARMVILLE – If Town Council's March 1 vote donating the Field of Dreams to the Prince Edward-Farmville Youth Association had been part of some game it would have been scored as an error.

A public hearing is required before the Town can dispose of public property and no public hearing was held.

Recognizing its mistake, the Town has now scheduled a public hearing on the donation for Tuesday, March 26 at noon.

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“The last meeting we approved donating the Field of Dreams to the Prince Edward Youth Association (sic). After we did that,” Town Manager Gerald Spates told Town Council during its March meeting Wednesday night, “we discovered we do have to hold a public hearing. So the requirement is that we advertise for the public hearing. We have to wait seven days before we have the hearing.

“So I'd like to suggest that we go ahead and advertise it in tomorrow's paper,” Spates advised.

Town Council voted to do just that, without discussing the donation.

Because the March 1 vote came without the legally required public hearing, Town Council must re-vote on the donation following the March 26 hearing.

“But I don't foresee any problems” with the donation going through, Spates told The Herald Thursday morning.

The March 26 hearing will actually be a continuation of Wednesday's meeting.

The March 1 donation vote came during a special called Town Council meeting and was a surprise move by the Town. Donation of the property to PEFYA had not been mentioned publicly during a Town Council work session or meeting in the months preceding the vote, even though the Town and Town Council were in deep discussions about master plan development of the property.

The Town purchased the property from STEPS for $770,854,20 in 2010 to ensure PEFYA continued to call the Field of Dreams home and last fall paid for a master plan to provide expansion and development options for fields, concessions and parking.

Donation of the property would contain a reversion clause in the deed so that if PEFYA ever stopped using it then the property would come back to the Town, which intends to preserve the property for youth athletics in the area regardless of whether the Town or PEFYA own the site.

Spates had explained to The Herald following the March 1 vote that the possibility of making the donation has always been in the back of the Town's mind but said that donating the property now was largely his idea and explained doing so is fairest to PEFYA.

“With the money they've invested in it-the intention, initially, was to give it to them but we held on to it till we could see how everything was going and we just think it would be better to let them control their own destiny, more or less,” he said.

“Going back and looking at the original minutes,” he continued, “the intention was to give them the (property). I think over the years some of them had suggested that, (but) not coming out publicly and suggesting it.

As for the master plan by Hurt & Proffitt, there are three options in the 60-plus page document for the development and expansion of playing fields and parking, with the choice of a new or renovated concession facility.

The estimated cost of undertaking the most ambitious of the options was set at $5.36 million.

“We did the master plan for the simple fact of being able to determine what the potential is for that facility and I would think this would not affect the master plan. It would be up to them to develop it,” Spates said. “We'll be glad to help any way. As far as them doing the master plan it's up to them what portions of it they want to do.”

Fundraising will also be up to PEFYA.

“Yeah. Right. And they can do that through donations. They're a whole lot more likely to get donations than we would for something like that,” Spates said.

“I think it's a good deal for them. They can do pretty much what they want to, without having to check with somebody,” the town manager explained. “If somebody else owns a piece of property…they were doing all these improvements on somebody else's property that they didn't own.”

Spates said, “I think it's a win-win for everybody and they can control their own destiny.”

The public hearing will allow citizen input into whether they think the donation would be a hit or not.