Manchester City Schools officials have reached an agreement with Manchester Department of Parks and Recreation to offer the city a 30-year lease of the Riverview School property for park improvements.
The agreement comes following the Manchester Board of Education failure to approve a lease at the Nov. 18 meeting because of concerns members had with an agreement for the school’s use of the Deadman Park baseball fields.
According to Chairman of the Board Travis Hillis, he signed a contract approving the lease agreement on Thursday, pending the board’s ratification of the executive action in the next board meeting.
Members confirmed during the November meeting that none were opposed to the offering the lease, rather were concerned about what the system pays the city for use of the ballfields.
The point of contention was an ad hoc agreement between agencies for the use of the field for $500 that covers maintenance, mowing and chalking the fields.
Board Member Dr. Prater Powell, who abstained from the vote because he also sits on the Recreation Commission board, noted that the baseball team has access to the fields for practice, for games all with no field preparation.
“It’s a minimal charge,” Powell said.
Board member Mike Lewis voiced concerns that additional money was paid in years past to cover repairs that cost $3,000 that the system split with the city. Lewis and board members Susan Parsley questioned the wisdom of one city entity being charged by another for services.
The consensus by the board was that any agreement should be finalized by written agreement, and that Chairman of the Board Travis Hillis and Vaughn should go to the recreation department for further negotiation.
As of Friday, Nov. 22, a verbal agreement had been reached with Director of Parks and Recreation Bonnie Gamble for the use of the field.
“Bonnie was good with a multi-year agreement with the reasonable price for the use of the field,” Hillis told the Times on Friday.
He said that the contract for use of the ballfield is forthcoming.
The board recognized the urgency in getting the contract approved before the deadline of the grant that Parks and Recreation will be applying for.
“We’ve been working with the city of Manchester and the recreation department and their attorney for quite some time. Originally, they had asked for use of the building and the grounds. They have changed their minds about that. Now their solely asking to use the grounds,” Vaughn said.
Parks and Recreation, if successful in the Tennessee Department of Health’s Diabetes Grant application, would apply the $450,000 toward building a playground behind the school, making the parking lot American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant and adding park benches.