Facilities Board discusses Sportsplex repairs

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Blytheville Baseball Facilities Board met last Wednesday to discuss repairs to the Blytheville Youth Sportsplex and looked into bringing in dirt to help the field.

“With this being the winter months, things are kind of slow and kind of down,” said Facilities board president Ryan Perkins. “We need to look at repairs for the Sportsplex for the upcoming season. I know the bleachers were a concern. So we probably need to get something to start looking at repairing them.”

Blytheville City Councilwoman Barbara Brothers said she has talked to the Municipal League and they said, “That the Booster club claims that it is their bleachers, then it is iffy if you can put the tax based dollars into repairing the bleachers. Unless you have a contract with them stating. I talked to Mr. Shawn [last Tuesday] and there is no contract. They claim the bleachers are theirs, the scoreboards are theirs and everything inside the concession stand is theirs. So I asked if we are allowed to put our tax (money), which is allocated for our parks and recreation, into repairing those. So he asked if there was no contract and I said no sir. So he said go back to look at the original ordinance when the tax was passed to build the facility… but he suggested that the Facilities board draws up a contract with the BBSB to get a playing field of what they are going to be responsible for and what not, because at the rate we are going we will turn around and the city could be sued as well as the BBSB, since they are trying to govern or run it, then they are liable for a lawsuit also.”

Brothers also added that the paperwork in the past has been so “shady” and it’s made getting grants hard.

Brothers mentioned that the Facilities board should look at the contract between the City of Jonesboro and the Jonesboro Booster Club to go as a guideline.

Perkins then mentioned that some members should go out to the Sportsplex and meet with Larry Morris to see what needs to be fixed at the fields.

Board Member David Hixson responded, “I’ve talked with Larry [Morris] today, spent about an hour with him today…”

Board Member Billy Fair asked which bleachers were being discussed and Perkins responded that they are the bleachers by the Rookie and Minor League fields.

Perkins said he heard that the city would pay for the repairing of the bleachers and Blytheville Mayor James Sanders’ assistant Cody Wyatt said, “The city would be responsible if we purchased them, but the problem is we have no paper trail on who got them and where they were bought at.”

Hixson then gave a report on what Morris said is needing fixed or updated, including the field dirt, which Hixson said is Morris’ biggest nightmare.

Hixson said, “Just to give you a little update of what me and Larry talked about and you know Larry is one of those, that I love dearly, but he’s like getting blood out of a turnip but he doesn’t want anything and I’m like Larry you have to have this. The biggest concern is two things. Just starting with the fields. The biggest thing, which is his biggest nightmare, is the field dirt…it’s the dirt that’s on the infields and that is critical. If you don’t have the right type of dirt on that thing and if you’ve ever seen Larry out on those fields when there are storms coming through, you’d see a guy that’s possessed. He goes out and waters the field to keep it from blowing off then when it does get blown off he blows it back and he’s really short handed on that… he just doesn’t complain. It’s not how he is. He uses the field dirt from Jackson, Tennessee, which is fairly local, but it is not a very good field dirt and it will vanish in a minute. He would really like to have the field dirt they had gotten originally…”

This dirt is nearly $3,000 a load and ideally Morris would like to have eight loads but Hixson said Morris would never ask for that much so he asked for two loads. But Hixson and Wyatt suggested a compromise of five loads. Hixson later asked Brothers to get three loads for the fields.

Perkins asked, “How would Larry get the dirt,” and Brothers responded, “ I’ll talk to [Blytheville Finance Director] John Callens.”

Hixson also said Larry works hard and has little help.

The other problem with the fields is replacing the field lights, and Hixson explained the lights are bought. They just have to be put up and confusion in the meeting was who puts them up — BBSB, the city or the power company.

The last problem that Hixson said Morris brought up was issues with the walking trail. Hixson said that as athletic director at Blytheville that he would be liable if that was the case at the school.

With that problem being brought up Wyatt said, “ This is a Commission, y’all are commissioners…It is named the Baseball Facilities Commission. Is that what this commission wants to do or should it govern the entire Sportsplex, which includes all the ball fields, soccer fields, the ponds and walking trails… In the resolution it says ‘Baseball Facilities Commission,’ so we need to maybe regroup and figure out do you need to be the “Baseball Facilities” and that means here, Cyprus and Williams Parks… I think it should be a Sportsplex as a whole.”

Perkins said, “Lets add to look at changing the Facilities resolution next meeting.”

Brothers added, “Whatever the changes y’all make have to go to the Council for approving.”

At the end of the meeting Brothers said the Municipal League says, “That the BBSB is setting themselves up for a lawsuit.”

Wyatt also mentioned that there needs to be better communication between the BBSB and the City of Blytheville.

After an incident with several windows being knocked out, Board Member Kellie Snyder asked for lights around the walking trail as well for security.

Brothers said that Blytheville Police Chief Ross Thompson was thinking about putting a barrier pole so people won’t be able to park and make barriers with their cars, which happens during soccer and with citizens fishing at the ponds.

Wyatt added, “When the BBSB is buying things and putting them on our facilities, the city needs a copy. Just because we need a copy…so I can show a paper trail for applying grants.”

Hixson asked, “Has it ever been addressed them.”

“I said it to Jonathan, as a friend, because he knows I work for the Mayor’s Office,” Wyatt said. “I need to know when y’all are making a big change so come to the office or come to these meetings and let us know.”

The Facilities board will next meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday, January 10 in the Municipal Courtroom.