Palmetto to review agreement with county for baseball fields

nwilliams@bradenton.comFebruary 3, 2013 

PALMETTO -- Palmetto City Commissioners will review a proposed inter-local agreement with Manatee County at a meeting Monday night to build baseball fields for the Palmetto Little League.

An agreement was requested by the county, according to Palmetto officials, for the transferring of $800,000 to the county for the design, permitting and construction of three regulation-sized fields and related infrastructure.

On Jan. 7, Palmetto commissioners approved a site plan for the expansion of Blackstone Field at Blackstone Park on 14th Avenue West, where the three youth fields are planned for the Palmetto Little League, formerly known as the North River American Little League.

The expansion is set for the northeast end of the fields along 23rd Street West and also will include a parking

lot, press box, concession building, bleachers, sidewalks and lighting.

The county has agreed to maintain the ballfields and if the city elects to use the facility, will have to obtain insurance and compensate the county for any loss or damage.

Construction for the complex is expected to begin this summer and to be completed by 2014. If the fields aren't constructed by January 1, 2015 the county has agreed to refund Palmetto the $800,000.

"It's not perfect from our standpoint, but it's necessary for the ballfields," said Palmetto Mayor Shirley Bryant.

City attorney Mark Barnebey said the agreement under review is the county's last version of a contract. A previous contract version was not accepted by either party.

The latest contract insists the full amount be deposited with the Clerk of Circuit Court. Bryant said she presented the team with a check for $800,000, but the county would not accept until an agreement was in place. In return, Palmetto wants to be informed of how funds are being administered and signage to be posted at the fields recognizing the city's contribution.

"We were going to advance an initial amount, but they insisted on having all of the funds out front," Bryant said.

Palmetto will also be held responsible for providing funds received from the sale of property at 705 and 715 10th Street W, which is in the process of being sold to the Manatee County School District.

The $800,000 comingfrom Palmetto consists of tax dollars and revenue forthe sale of property to the county school district for building a new PalmettoElementary building.

In September, the Manatee County Commission OK'd an estimated $3.3 million plan for construction of the fields in Palmetto. The county will have to remove the top layer of existing soil at the future site of the fields due to residual pesticide on the property as a result of previous farming. Remediation of the top six inches of soil increased the project cost from $2 million to $3.3 million.

Since 2009, the Little League has played at the two adult softball fields at Blackstone Park. After Palmetto officials sold the Little League's previous home to the county school board for a new elementary school in 2009, the city considered buying about 10 acres of land between 11th and 14th avenues west, but the price for the land was more than the city could afford.

Nick Williams, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams

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