Buckingham County softball complex heads to final vote

The proposed GRIT Softball Academy is one step closer to reality. GRIT in this case stands for Greatness, Resilience, Intelligence and Tenacity. During their Monday, June 12 meeting, Buckingham County supervisors heard from some young supporters of the project and agreed to send it to a public hearing and final vote. 

“There isn’t much related to softball to do in this county,” Buckingham student and softball player Hannah Johnson told the board. She praised Marci Lowrance, GRIT’s owner, saying the woman is a great coach. 

“Marci has taught me personally to be the best I can be,” Johnson said. “She has helped me gain confidence in this sport so much. She has always been a help when I needed her. To me, the academy is more than just a place to train at. It’s a place I know I will grow every time I step in.” 

The property is one that’s likely familiar to many readers, as it’s the old Gold Hill Elementary School. Located at 59 Gold Hill Elementary School Road in New Canton, Lowrance wants to open a fully turfed facility in the old cafeteria. That means a fully turfed facility with batting cages and plenty of room for softball workouts.

The facility would be open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4:30 to 7 p.m. and every other Sunday after church, Lowrance said in her application. 

Why does Buckingham County softball need a permit?

Lowrance needs a special use permit because of where the property is. The former elementary school is in a Light Industrial zoning district. Right now, the county doesn’t allow things like a private recreational facility to be in the area, with one exception. If the person comes before the planning commission, and then the board of supervisors, they can request and possibly be approved for a permit that way.

As the property is a former elementary school, designed to handle parents coming and going with their students, the Virginia Department of Transportation has signed off, saying a traffic impact study isn’t required.

“It is important to me to provide the young girls of this county an advantage that I never had while I lived here,” Lowrance wrote in her application. “I was forced to go over an hour each way to get softball instruction. I never want another Buckingham County girl to have to travel so far to have the same access to quality softball instruction as the ladies that live in bigger cities. My goal is not only to provide them with the softball skills to take them to the next level, but also to be a positive mentor in their lives.” 

It’s a very familiar sport to the Buckingham County native. Lowrance has played softball at multiple levels, winning all-district and all-region honors in high school, then continuing at Longwood and Charleston Southern. She’s also been a coach, teaching the sport at a charter school in South Carolina before moving back here and continuing to coach. Now she wants to take a former school and transform part of it into a softball complex.

What happens next?

The public hearing and final vote will be held at the next meeting of the Board of Supervisors. That’s scheduled for Monday, July 10 at 6 p.m.