LEE COMMISSIONERS: Board to hear ideas for O.T. Sloan Park

Feb. 02, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

Lee County Commissioners will consider the future of O.T. Sloan Park Monday night, but only after reviewing its past.

Lee County Parks and Recreation Director John Payne is scheduled to give an overview of the park’s history, and its possibilities going forward, during the 6 p.m. meeting of the Lee County Board of Commissioners at the Lee County Government Center, located at 106 Hillcrest Drive.

“There has been recent interest shown by private citizens to see what might be possible at O.T. Sloan Park if funding could be made available from private, government and possible grant sources," according to the meeting agenda."At present, there is no firm commitment from private funding sources, but an interest has been indicated."

The park was first developed in the mid-1970s and is overdue for an upgrade, Payne said. A group of private individuals is interested in discussing how that improvement might take place and whether the city's $2 million Parks and Recreation bond will play a role in that process, he said.

“It will be an informational session about some of the things we have been talking about,” Payne said. “Since the (city of Sanford’s) bonds have passed, we have taken a look at what could possibly happen at O.T. Sloan."

During a recent Sanford City Council retreat, Sanford Mayor Chet Mann discussed possibly using the city’s Parks and Recreation Bond to fund a “21st-century sports complex” at O.T. Sloan, including several baseball fields and new buildings.

“The use of this bond for a multi-sport complex would serve a great deal more for the city than a smaller park in a certain area of town,” Mann said during the retreat. “We have the opportunity to build something that could last 50 to 100 years for all types of people in the county. It's the biggest return on our investment.” 

That idea, Payne said, is a possibility, and a sports complex could be an economic driver for the community based on the increased use of the baseball fields at the Tramway Road Park. In three years, the number of tournaments has increased from three a year to 14, he said.

"I think it could be good because the tournaments we have hosted brought a number of people in, and speaking with them, they are happy to come to Sanford and play," Payne said. "I think it's a good thing to expose our community to the outside and, if they are spending money here, even better."

None of these ideas are final, Payne stressed, and Mann said he's seeking more public input about using the bond for O.T. Sloan.

Other agenda items include:

* A resignation letter from Lee County Environmental Review and Advisory Committee member Matt Sakurada. In his letter, he states that he thought the board would have more public input, more importance within Lee County, have more county support, focus on more environmental issues,  and “have a more balanced approach to environmental issues, but (found) the economic priorities try to overwhelm other issues.” The committee mainly focuses on hydraulic fracturing, he wrote.

* A $500 donation to the Lee County Parks and Recreation Department from Bojangles’ in Tramway.

*A resolution opposing the North Carolina School Board Association's lawsuit — and the Lee County Board of Education's support for said lawsuit — against the state's controversial voucher program.

* Advertising the delinquent real property taxes for Lee County.

* A contract for Martin Starnes & Associates for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.