Deal for new Little League fields in Palmetto hits a snag

skennedy@bradenton.comJanuary 8, 2013 

MANATEE — The Manatee County Commission moved a step closer to construction of long-delayed Little League baseball fields in Palmetto, but encountered another snag in the $3.3 million project: The $800,000 the city of Palmetto promised to pay as its share has not been legally transferred.

“There’s no signed agreement with Palmetto yet for the money,” said Commissioner Carol Whitmore Tuesday during a commission meeting.

Before the county can proceed with construction of three ballfields at Blackstone Park, it needs an an interlocal agreement setting out terms for transfer of the money, she said.

Palmetto officials agreed to contribute $800,000 toward the new ballfields, with county park impact fees supplying the rest of the money.

The agreement has been at the office of Palmetto City Attorney Mark Barnebey since early December, Barnebey said later when a reporter inquired about its status.

“We’re still negotiating,” he said.

It wasn’t until Monday night that the Palmetto city commissioners had even seen formal plans at all, he said.

“We wanted to make sure everything was on the right track,” Barnebey said. The city commission approved the plans after its review the same night.

The agreement will be in the hands of county officials by week’s end, Barnebey predicted.

Plans call for three, regulation-sized Little League ballfields; a parking lot; a press box; concession building; bleachers; sidewalks, and lighting at Blackstone Field, east and north of existing Blackstone Park softball fields.

The project’s design is expected to be complete this year, with completion of construction slated for 2014, according to Tom Yarger, the county’s construction services manager.

Manatee County employees will be doing some of the work, and the project will be managed in-house, he said.

“We feel we can save general contractor fees between 10-18 percent,” he told commissioners. Palmetto and Manatee County officials plan to build the ballfields for the Palmetto Little League, which was displaced from its Palmetto playing fields a few years ago.

The ballfields were eliminated after the city sold the land to the Manatee County School Board for the construction of a new elementary school.

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