On Thursday Jun. 2, city leaders including Mayor Doug Kinslow along with Aldermen Lee Johnson, Daniel McDaniel and Lance Terry sat down to consider a plan that could potentially end in a large sports complex being built on the East side of Greenwood.
The meeting was just a study session, no votes were taken and no binding decisions were made.
Kinslow stated that he has been in talks with the owners of a 96 acre tract that lies between Alpha Packaging and Old Chismville Rd. concerning potential sports park and the owners have proposed a deal with the city to give over 40-50 acres of land in exchange for infrastructure on the remainder of the property.
The landowners have the property platted for a new housing addition, but the plat has yet to be presented to the city council for approval. The mayor stated that there were 100 homes planned for the area but that the landowner only plans to build about half as many as originally platted.
The mayor envisions the sports complex to have nine or ten baseball fields, two soccer fields and a building that will house a basketball arena and after school activities. After completion, the project will be leased to the South Sebastian County Boys and Girls Club, who will run and maintain the facility.
The current Boys and Girls Club, which is located off of Hwy. 71, sits on 30 acres and is nearly out of room to grow.
In the plan that the mayor laid out the city would “swap” with the Boys and Girls Club giving them a new home for their current property on the highway which the city could sell to a potential business such as a hotel or restaurant.
Kinslow stated that after he met with the landowners he immediately contacted the city’s attorney, Mike Hamby, to ensure that the city could trade services for land. Hamby assured the mayor that such a deal is indeed legal and that the city does assist people all the time in return of easements.
Kenny Sunde Director the Boys and Girls said in the meeting that he has met with his board and that they are in favor of the idea. “We had a meeting where we went over everything,” said Sunde. “And the board is 100% behind it. I have been out there for 12 years and every mayor has approached us but no mayor has ever had a solution on how we can move.”
Sunde stated that he has heard proposals of moving the club in stages from other administrations, but that it is impractical to do so. “We have 1500 members,” said Sunde. “We can’t do things in stages.”
“This all has merit,” said Alderman Daniel McDaniel. “I think that it is worth discussing.” We have more questions than answers at this point.”
The Girls and Boys Club currently owes $115,000 on their property on Hwy. 71, a debit that the city would inherit if the trade takes place.
“If they are willing to trade infrastructure for this piece of property,” said Alderman Lee Johnson. “A part of that is coming out of the water department for improvements to water and sewer on the East side of town, which will likely benefit folks that will live out there eventually, that is not a bad deal. Let’s say we don’t do that deal and they come in and develop that land. We will be looking at doing some kind of improvements anyway one way or the other and then we will not have the 40-50 acres.”
Dr. Johnson went on to say that his only issue would be how will the city pay for the sports complex, which they agreed could cost the city roughly $10 million.
“If you do a one cent sales tax that will come to about one million dollars a year,” said Johnson. If you do that for 10 years you get 10 million dollars worth of sports complex out here. Are people going to vote for that? I don’t know.”
At the meeting the mayor was encouraged to continue speaking with the landowner to try and iron out the details of exactly what he wants in exchange for the property.