PALMETTO — Several dozen parents and supporters of Little League complained Monday about various aspects of a proposed baseball complex and street re-alignment, but the Palmetto City Commission defended its plans and voted money to move forward on the project.
The commission OK’d the expenditure of not more than $700,000 from the net proceeds of $1,025,498.22 from the sale of property.
Plans call for first re- aligning 23rd Street West, and then building the new baseball complex, said Allen Tusing, public works director, who added that the current route of the road bisects where the ballfields need to be built.
Parents and some of those representing North River American Little League questioned whether the road re-alignment was necessary, whether city commissioners were committed to building the park, and whether it would take too long to accomplish.
“Our league has already lost 35 percent of our players,” said Charles Hague IV, president of the North River American Little League. “We suggest these are not the only options.”
Maricelda Rodriguez said she grew up as a migrant worker and never had the opportunity to play baseball, but her three children do have that chance.
“All I want is you guys to help us get our new fields, something we can be proud of,” she told commissioners.
Others said they hoped the complex would be as nice as those in Lakewood Ranch or Bradenton.
“Without a quality park close by, you’re doing a disservice to the community,” said Beth VanVranken, Florida Little League District 26 assistant district administrator, whose two children both play ball.
City Commissioner Tambra Varnadore said when her kids played baseball, they had to use Porta-Potties because the field where they played lacked restrooms, adding, “We’re all committed to the children.”
Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant said, “We want a nice complex for north of the river, and we’ve done nothing less than our best to get this thing built.”
In other action, the commission adopted a tentative $29 million budget for 2009-10 and set a date of Sept. 28 for its final passage.
The commissioners also voted tentatively to drop the millage 10.14 percent, Bryant said. It will be set at 4.6662 per $1,000 of assessed property value, she said.