Town Given Firemen's Sports Arena

Published 3:45 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2013

FARMVILLE – For the Town of Farmville, it may be better to give but also to receive.

Poised to hold a public hearing on its intended donation of the Field Of Dreams to the Prince Edward-Farmville Youth Association-and a re-vote to do so-the Town has just been given the nearly 20-acre Firemen's Sports Arena property.

The deed has already been transferred to the Town.

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The Town's current plan is to locate its summer recreation program activities to the property, which includes the 100-foot by 100-foot building capable of seating 500 people and a baseball field that was built by the Town for the fire department.

“Man, it's a great facility,” Town Manager Gerald Spates told The Herald.

“The potential's there to put in all kinds of facilities,” he continued, “and, being close to the county schools, it's a perfect location.”

The donation to the Town by The Firemen's Sports Arena, Inc. has been in the works for several years, Spates told Town Council last week.

“We've been talking to them for probably four or five years,” Spates said during Town Council's March monthly meeting.

“At least,” said Mayor Sydnor C. Newman, Jr.

The sports arena, the town manager explained, was built “primarily to raise money for the fire department. They used to hold dances several times a month and used to make a lot of money.”

The dances have largely fallen by the wayside.

“I don't know if people go dancing or not (anymore),” Spates observed.

Newman said, “Alcohol had a lot to do with” the drop-off in dances because of DUI concerns. And, he added of the organization, “we just didn't have the money to (fix things) so I talked to Gerry four or five years ago, trying to talk and see if (the Town) could take over.”

Spates said, “There was some apprehension from some of the older members of the fire department” at the outset.

But, the town manager continued, “They were just going in the hole each month and they approached us about it and we were very interested…

“…The reason they did is because we built the ball fields for them,” Spates noted.

The donation process, he explained, “took probably a three or four-year process but I think it's in the best interests of everybody and the firemen know if they ever need it for anything it's still going to be used for community facilities. It will just be a different owner.”

And, Town Council member Jamie Davis pointed out, “they gave it to us, right?”

“Yeah,” Spates replied. “You can't beat that.”

Town Council member Donald L. Hunter spoke of the key role the property could play in the Town's recreation program, prompting Spates to later say, “And like Mr. Hunter mentioned, it's a good recreation facility and I think Chris (Town Recreation Department director Chris Bolt) is probably going to do his summer program out there at the sports arena. It's our facility and I think it would work a whole lot better out there.”

A plaque thanking the Firemen's Sports Arena, Inc. will be placed on the site in recognition of the donation.

The organization does have 11 remaining events booked at the facility before the end of 2013, with last set for December 23, and the Town will honor that schedule, with the Firemen's Sports Arena, Inc. collecting the revenue from each.

Once those events have been held, the Town will undertake any necessary improvements to the facility.

“We've got some work that needs to be done because nothing's been done out there for a long time, (but) no major things,” Spates told council members.

“A lot of cosmetic stuff,” he said, adding that the heating and air-conditioning units “are brand new.”

The Town is looking the gift horse in the mouth and likes what it sees.

“You have a copy of the plat and (the property) goes all the way to bypass,” Spates said, “so it's a nice piece of property and it's got a lot of potential for the future.

“In the long-run,” he concluded, “this is going to be a tremendous asset for the town.”