Town, CMS look to more joint agreements
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Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013

Town, CMS look to more joint agreements

At a time when saving tax dollars is a priority, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and Cornelius have an agreement allowing the joint use of Bailey Road Middle School and the Bailey Road Park.

“About 15 years ago, agreements like this were unheard of in Charlotte Mecklenburg,” said Troy Fitzsimmons, Cornelius parks director. “However, CMS and area municipalities such as Cornelius have come together to leverage our resources and develop joint-use partnerships.”

In fact, the Bailey Road Middle School agreement, which was reached in 2006, worked out so well that a similar arrangement was adopted in 2006 for J.V. Washam Elementary School, and now the town and CMS are discussing joint facility agreements for Hough High and Cornelius Elementary.

Under the Bailey School agreement, the town can use the gym, cafeteria and parking lot at Bailey Road Middle School facilities for park and recreation activities when they are not being used for school purposes.

Likewise, CMS can use the soccer, baseball and softball fields at the adjacent Bailey Road Park when the town is not using them. Both use the football field/soccer field and track, which are jointly owned by the town and CMS.

The town is responsible for clean-up after conducting events at the school. Under the agreement, Cornelius is now using the school for recreational and cultural activities, including orchestra, Pilates and basketball.

CMS is responsible for repair and maintenance of Bailey Road Middle School and the Town is responsible for the football/soccer field and Bailey Road Park. Each has first priority scheduling events at their own facilities, and staff from the schools and town work together to draw up a mutually agreeable schedule.

Under the terms of the agreement, the town is not permitted to schedule any events at the school or football/soccer field during regular school hours on school days without first receiving permission from CMS.

There isn’t any exchange of funds between CMS and Cornelius for the use of these facilities. However, the town contributed funds toward the cost of sewer and water extension construction to the school property.

Town officials say that agreements such as this help keep municipal costs lower than when town and school facilities are funded and operated independently of each other.

“In an agreement such as this, benefits accrue to CMS and the town, as well as the general public,” said CMS spokesman Brian Hacker. “Schools do exist to serve the community’s needs, including those for recreation.”

Other specific benefits include the fact that a single site can be acquired to serve several agencies and purposes, resulting in decreased costs for acquisition, and that shared site work, development, construction, and occupancy result in substantial cost savings.

Under the agreement concerning J.V. Washam Elementary, Cornelius uses the school football field for various team sport activities such as football and lacrosse; and occasionally for soccer and rugby. The gymnasium is used for basketball and volleyball, and they also use the school for some summer sports and art camps.

CMS now has similar agreements with both Huntersville and Matthews.

Dave Vieser is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Dave? Email him at davidvieser@gmail.com.

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