Town and school board cancel land purchase option

By Gus Pearcy

The Town of Brownsburg and the Brownsburg Community School Corporation have canceled an option to purchase 106 acres of land near the intersection of county roads 700 N. and 900 E.

The option was to buy the land at $20,000 an acre which was to be used to build youth athletic fields for the Brownsburg Little League (BLL) and Brownsburg Girls Softball League (BGSL). School Superintendent Jim Snapp said the purchase option was set to expire April 16, but during an executive session with the board, they made it clear to him that they did not wish to seek an extension.

The council voted April 8 to seek the extension while it pursued purchasing and providing fields at the former Hoosier Athletic Center on E. Main St. across from Lucas Oil Raceway.

Currently, the BGSL plays on diamonds near the high school and has a separate contract with the school corporation. Snapp said the growing school district needs the land which is currently the home to the BGSL. The contract with BGSL would be canceled if the town and the two leagues can come to an agreement for a new home fields.

“It makes sense to everybody that the contract goes away,” said Snapp of the option, adding that at least two of the council members would like to pursue the Hoosier Athletic Center alternative. “The school corporation was going to sell the land to the town for $20,950 an acre. That was the price they (the corporation) bought it at probably about 14 years ago.”

He added that if the town and the leagues come to an agreement, there still may be a chance to sell the land but the school board would renegotiate the price.

“I’m going to speculate here and believe that it’s not at that price from 14 years ago because the market for that land is at least three times that.”

In December, the council approved the term sheet with the two youth leagues to build six fields on 40 acres of the undeveloped land. The town would pay for the design and construction of the diamonds and the leagues would each pay back $5 million over time. In December, only Jeff Gracey voiced and voted in opposition to the plan. In January, a caucus filled Dennis Dawes’ seat with Ben Lacey, who has also voted against the plan.

Only council member Brian Jessen seems to still be in favor of the original, tentative agreement passed four months ago. At the last council meeting, the Brownsburg Little League said they were not in favor of a deal that includes the Hoosier Athletic Center.

Snapp said there are no plans to sue based on the option contract, it just “didn’t work out.”

Appraisals of the Hoosier Athletic Center are expected to be returned next week. Council President Travis Tschaenn has said publicly repurposing the shuttered center would rejuvenate economic development on E. Main Street and prevent the area from the current stagnation.

Also, the council voted to remove the issuance of bonds for the project from the agenda. There is no indication when the matter will return to the council’s agenda.