Town OKs MOU with county

Published 11:15 am Wednesday, November 15, 2017

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

The Smithfield Town Council approved a memorandum of understanding with Isle of Wight County for shared use of the town’s multi-million-dollar Joseph W. Luter Jr. sports complex.

The unanimous vote Tuesday, Nov. 7, ends a months-long back-and-forth between the two municipalities over the terms of the agreement.

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The Board of Supervisors signed off on both the MOU and facility use agreement at its October meeting. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The county will contribute $250,000 over a period of five years toward the large ball park, and will pay a discounted rate for renting the space out for events.

The latest addition to the agreement will allow the county two free events a year, to be youth baseball and football-themed and held at no charge to participants.

Representatives from both governing bodies expressed frustration with the other during the course of the agreement’s development, Smithfield Councilman Milton Cook motioning at one point over the summer to rescind the MOU after the Board of Supervisors sent it back and expressed dissatisfaction with the terms.

Council member Randy Pack weighed scrapping the MOU and the county’s involvement in the ball fields at an Oct. 24 committee meeting, crediting them as being a poor business partner in the past.

Smithfield Parks Director Amy Novak advocated keeping the MOU and use agreements, which she worked on with County Parks and Recreation Director David Smith to complete, saying she wanted as many people using the new fields as possible.

The county’s funds will be an asset for the town as it looks to stay in the black as it nears the end of the over $4 million project, signing off on a hefty $192,564 asphalt parking lot for the facility at its Tuesday meeting.

The new facility will boast four baseball fields of varying sizes, one “multi-use” field with a .25-mile track and an upscale concession building located in the center of the site.

Completion of the park has been pushed back a couple of times in recent months, and the grand opening may not occur until this upcoming spring, as the Virginia Department of Transportation has stipulated a turn lane to the facility be constructed first. {/mprestriction}