SRA asks for payment extension

Published 6:52 pm Tuesday, December 4, 2018

By Frederic Lee

Staff writer 

The Smithfield Recreation Association has requested an amendment to its current lease for the Joseph W. Luter Jr. Sports Complex to provide more time for a fundraising effort to keep Beale Park from being sold.  

The request was made Nov. 27 at the Smithfield Town Council Parks and Recreation Committee meeting. 

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Instead of one lump sum of $300,000, the lease amendment instead proposes dividing the sum into $30,000 annual payments over 10 years, beginning in January of 2020. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The complex’s current infrastructure limitations also contributed to this amendment, according to Smithfield Director of Parks and Recreation Amy Novak. 

Novak was referring to items that still need to be completed, such as the sewer lines and turn lane. 

SRA owns Beale Park and SRA President Chris Kennedy said that when it became time to start putting up ‘for sale’ signs, “there were quite a few people who took exception with that  and wanted to see what could be done to save Beale Park.” 

Back in October of 2016, SRA proposed selling Beale Park — appraised at $450,000, according to Kennedy — in order to contribute $300,000 for the larger sports complex. In exchange, SRA was to lease and operate the sports complex, so a lease agreement was created and signed by both parties. 

The lease amendment now being considered gives SRA time to stretch fundraising out over a longer period of time, said Kennedy.  

Additionally, the current lease stipulates that SRA put Beale Park up for sale upon possession and implementation of programs at the complex. As it stands however, the sports complex is limited in use due to the lack of a VDOT-required turn lane and permanent sewer system. 

“When we were having delays with our sewer line and our turn lane, Chris and I started talking about what would be the best route to go to make sure SRA has a place to play,” said Novak, who also sits on the SRA Board of Directors as a nonvoting member.

SRA’s 20-year lease, which has already been signed by Kennedy and the town, also designates an annual rent of $25,000, the first payment due in one month. 

If the lease amendment is approved by the Smithfield Town Council, SRA will be on the hook for $55,000 to use the sports complex each year for 10 years. That includes the initial $25,000 annual rent plus an annual contribution of $30,000 toward the total capital commitment. 

Additionally, Kennedy said in October the cost for SRA to maintain Beale Park is $25,000 a year. On Nov. 30, he said that he anticipates the cost to be lower as more of the sports action moves over to the new sports complex. 

Other sources of funding for the $4 million sports complex came from former Smithfield Foods President and CEO Joseph W. Luter III, Smithfield Foods, Farmers Bank, Isle of Wight County and the Town of Smithfield.

“Changes to the lease or facility policies are inevitable in order to better the operations and strengthen the partnership between the town and user groups of the facility,” Novak said.

“I just want to confirm that Beale Park knows that … there will be a lien on the (Beale Park) property,” said Smithfield Town Council member Valerie Butler. A lien on Beale Park would grant the town of Smithfield legal right to seize the property if SRA neglected their annual payments. A lien would be nonsensical in the case of a lump sum payment — as previously prescribed — since no debt would exist. 

“If we miss a payment, ‘for sale’ signs go up,” Kennedy said.    {/mprestriction}