Palmetto accepts agreement with county for ballfields with skepticism

nwilliams@bradenton.comFebruary 5, 2013 

PALMETTO -- Though extremely tentative about the decision, Palmetto City Commissioners accepted an inter-local agreement Monday with Manatee County to build ballfields for the Palmetto Little League.

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

The contract stipulates Palmetto deposit the money with the Clerk of Circuit Court. Palmetto will also be held responsible for providing funds received from the sale of property at 705 and 715 10th St. W., which is in the process of being sold to the Manatee County School District for $22,000.The $800,000 coming from Palmetto consists of tax dollars and revenue for the sale of property to the county school district for building a new Palmetto Elementary building.

Commissioners questioned several items in the county's proposed agreement, which says if the fields aren't constructed by Jan. 1, 2015, the county will refund $800,000 to Palmetto. "With this agreement, they can't guarantee it will be done in time, they can't guarantee they'll have the funds, but we have to guarantee money," Commissioner Tambra Varnadore said.

"Our feet are being held to the fire to get these ballparks done," Commissioner Brian Williams said.

The city has been working on building new fields for the team since 2009.

Manatee County Commissioner Michael Gallen attended the meeting and assured Palmetto officials the project would be completed. "I'm confident the fund-ing will be there," Gallen said.

Gallen said the county may use park impact fees to pay its $3.3 million share of the costs.

On Jan. 7, Palmetto commissioners approved a site plan for the expansion of Blackstone Field at Black-stone Park on 14th Avenue West, where the three youth fields are planned. The expansion is set for the northeastend 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, it 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.

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.Also Monday, the commission heard the first reading of a proposed ordinance that would regulate mobile food vendors and temporary retail sales locations and personal services. As presented to the commission Monday, the ordinance would allow vendors to operate from 7 a.m. to sunset. Vendors would not be permitted to sell on public right of way and a would require a site plan to address traffic, parking and planning uses. The permits will be active for a maximum of one year and would approved by public works department.

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