City to seek control of park

PORTERDALE - Confusion over who is responsible for the upkeep of the ballfield in BC Crowell Park led the Porterdale City Council to agree at a work session Thursday night to move toward settling the issue once and for all. The city's ultimate goal is to resume control over use and maintenance of the park.

Councilwoman Arline Chapman said the issue over who is responsible for the ballfield came to her notice after a group requested use of the ballfield for practice. She said when the group arrived at the field, they found broken glass and overgrown grass, making it unusable. Chapman said the city subsequently paid for the field to be cleaned up, and it has since been used for a scrimmage game.

Though the city cleaned up the ballfield, Chapman said it remains unclear who is actually responsible for the park. "It seems to be in limbo," she said.

City Manager Tom Fox said the city owns the ballfield and that an agreement was drawn up years ago leasing the

ballfield to the county; however, that document was never signed. Later, he said, there was a plan to allow the Recreation Department to use the field at peak practice times and to gradually transition control of the park back to Porterdale. Again, no formal agreement was ever signed, he said.

Councilwoman Linda Finger said an effort was made to gain control of the park a few years ago when she was on the city's Parks and Recreation Committee. Once again, however, the effort never went anywhere. Finger pointed out that the city is maintaining the park and pays for the electricity to light the park at night and, therefore, it should be receiving any revenue generated by park rentals.

Fox said it appears that both Porterdale and the Recreation Department are performing maintenance duties at the park.

The park, located on Broad Street near the fire station, is described on the Newton County Recreation Department Web site as offering "a practice field for youth baseball and softball. Small children can enjoy the playground while older children or adults enjoy the basketball court. The covered pavilion makes a great place to have a picnic and can be reserved for $75 per day."

However, there's even some dispute about what actually constitutes BC Crowell Park. Councilwoman Kay Piper said the ballfield is not actually part of the park - but the playground and pavilion area are. "We can take that ballfield, but we need clarification for BC Crowell Park," she said.

Mayor Bobby Hamby suggested he and Fox meet with Recreation Department Director Tommy Hailey to resolve the issue of control of the park. "We'll just tell them we'll take it, and if they want to use it they can just contact us," he said.

Alice Queen can be reached at alice.queen@rockdalecitizen.com.