Ball field rules taking shape

Published 12:50 pm Wednesday, October 4, 2017

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The Smithfield Town Council was set to vote last night on its use policy and fee structure for the Joseph W. Luter Jr. sports complex. The Council was also scheduled to vote on the memorandum of understanding with Isle of Wight County.

Isle of Wight does not vote on the use policy and fees, it will just be referred to in the MOU, said Smithfield Parks and Recreation Director Amy Novak.

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There was still some discussion by Council members at a recent committee meeting about giving Isle of Wight County organizations a 50 percent discount for the use of the fields. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Isle of Wight County Parks and Recreation also requested the use of the fields for two events a year at no cost as a way to get children interested in sports. There would be no cost to participants either, said Novak.

Town Council member Milton Cook objected to giving county-based organizations a discount, plus he wanted a separate use agreement directly with the School Board, rather than going through the Board of Supervisors. He was OK with the two annual events for residents.

Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors had pledged $250,000 toward the $4 million sports complex.

“I’m not particularly keen on giving them a discount,” said Cook about Isle of Wight County.

The use policy breaks down users into three categories. Smithfield Recreation Association is a level one user and has priority in scheduling the use of the five baseball fields. Level two users include all Isle of Wight County entities and level three are for those located outside the county. 

The proposed fee for the use of the multipurpose field is $300 a day for level three users. Isle of Wight County-based organizations and entities would get 50 percent off that proposed rate. The use of the track at the complex would cost $200 for the day, with a 50 percent discount for county-based organizations, such as Relay for Life.

The baseball fields ranged from $300 to $400 a day, depending on whether or not lighting was used.

Cook said he didn’t want to exclude any Isle of Wight County-based entity but he also didn’t want to give them 50 percent off each time the fields are used.

Novak said the fees can be adjusted as needed and thought it was good to keep the discounted rate for county entities.

So did Council member Denise Tynes.

It keeps a positive relationship between the county and the town, she said.

“I’d like to keep it that way,” she said.

Mayor Carter Williams wanted to let Isle of Wight and Surry Relay for Life use the track at no charge, but Tynes pointed out that the tents and other items used by the Relay damage the fields and they would have to be repaired after the event.

Novak said that some level of payment makes users more vested in taking care of the facility.

Council member Randy Pack asked why one entity should get to use the track free and not another. Perhaps there should be a mechanism to apply for a waiver, he said.

After a discussion on how to operate the concession stand and who may possibly use it other than Smithfield Recreation, Williams said, “It’s going to take 10 years to get this thing working correctly.”  {/mprestriction}