By Gus Pearcy
After council members said there could be no more delays at the last meeting, the Brownsburg Town Council voted April 8 to remove the youth athletic field proposal drawn up by Brownsburg Little League and the Brownsburg Girls Softball Association from the agenda. They can bring it back up at a later meeting, if they want. While it’s not a complete defeat of youth athletic fields proposal as originally passed late last year, it certainly appears to be in jeopardy.
The original term sheet, which the council approved in December, had the town purchasing 106 acres near the intersection of county roads 700 N and 900 E from the Brownsburg Community School Corporation. The term sheet also authorized the town to continue with design plans to turn 40 of the 106 acres into six baseball diamonds to be used by the Little League and softball association.
Those plans changed significantly when Ben Lacey replaced Dennis Dawes as council member and other members who originally approved the deal changed their mind when citizens objected. The council was to issue $15.5 million for the project.
The original deal also had the youth leagues repaying back $10 million over several years.
At the last council meeting, the council wanted to explore the former Hoosier Athletic Center across from Lucas Oil Raceway, which has been closed for several years.
Council member Jeff Gracey has always been against using tax money to build the fields, saying it is not the responsibility of the government. Lacey has balked on a provision to use Economic Development Income Taxes or EDIT funds to pay back the bonds.
Both council member Matt Simpson and president Travis Tschaenn seemed to want to at least explore the use or reuse of the Hoosier Athletic Center. Earlier attempts to use the adult ball fields were stymied by the owner’s asking price and drainage issues. Lacey and Gracey both said there are elements of the deal they need to know.
Council member Brian Jessen, the only council member in favor of the December deal, was absent from the April 8 meeting.
The option proposed to purchase the land from the school is set to expire next week, which is why council members said in March that a decision had to be made. In this meeting, the council directed town manager Jeff Eder to renegotiate the option with the school for a 60-day extension. Then they voted to remove it from the agenda with no plans to bring it back.
An appraisal of the Hoosier Athletic Fields is set to come back April 19.
The Brownsburg Community School Board met April 12.