SRA makes first Luter payment

Published 1:44 am Wednesday, January 29, 2020

By Frederic Lee

Staff writer

Annual payments required from the Smithfield Recreation Association to use the Joseph W. Luter Jr. Sports Complex began on Jan. 15, after their lease agreement was amended to allow them to maintain ownership of Beale Park instead of having to sell it. 

The first of 10 $30,000 payments, to occur each year until 2030, has been made, according to Smithfield Parks and Recreation Director Amy Novak. 

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Smithfield Recreation Association member Chris Kennedy said in an interview on Jan. 17 that the majority of funds raised came from a successful gold tournament that took place on May 17. 

Kennedy was president of the association when the tournament took place, and during the time when the lease agreement with the town of Smithfield was amended. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Previously, the funds from the sale of Beale Park — namely, $300,000 — were supposed to contribute to the multimillion dollar Luter Sports Complex while it was being built, in exchange for the association’s lease of the baseball fields at the complex after it was complete. Once those plans were announced, however, members of the community rose up to “Save Beale Park,” resulting in a Save Beale Park Committee and the ensuing fundraiser. 

In addition to the $30,000 payment, Smithfield Recreation Association is also required to pay $25,000 in annual rent for use of the Luter Sports Complex, and, according to Kennedy, that payment has been made as well. 

The golf tournament — which took place at the Cypress Creek Golf Course — was so successful that organizers of the event had to turn away individuals who wanted to participate in the tournament leading up to May 17. 

Members of the Save Beale Park Committee, in coordination with the Smithfield Recreation Association, put on the tournament, and another, larger tournament is planned for later this year, roughly around the same time as the first one, according to Kennedy.  

As of now, the tournament will remain Captain’s Choice but, instead of having just one tournament round, called a flight, there will probably be one in the morning and one in the afternoon, in order to increase participation.  

While about 60 golfers participated in the tournament in 2019, having two flights will allow the fundraiser to include close to 100, said Kennedy. 

“We’re fortunate to live in a very generous community,” said Kennedy, also praising Save Beale Park Committee President Vince Ducote, members of the Save Beale Park Committee, individuals who donated to the ‘Save Beale Park” cause separate from the tournament and the Cypress Creek Golf Course. 

With the Smithfield Recreation Association now equipped with two baseball facilities, younger ball players are getting more practice times on actual ballfields, and the association has more leeway in terms of organizing practices and games for both baseball and softball players, of which there are about 300, said Kennedy. 

“All of the games are at the new park, basically,” said Kennedy, referring to the Luter Sports Complex.  

The new president of the Smithfield Recreation Association is Charles Allison.  {/mprestriction}