Pineville, PCAA may team up for sports

After a lengthy and at times tense discussion, the town of Pineville agreed March 11 to explore a partnership with the Pineville Community Athletic Association.

Town leaders also agreed to begin discussions with the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department about a funding partnership.

“I have a lot of concerns,” said Councilwoman Melissa Rogers Davis during the meeting. “I don’t have anything against the PCAA coming back but I do have an issue with the amount of money.”

Members of the Pineville Community Athletic Association requested a partnership with the town to find a permanent home and build a sense of stability. An initial proposal of field and facility construction is more than $1.1 million, town athletic coordinator Jennifer Honaker said in her report.

In recent years, the association had rented property from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for $25 a year, operating two T-ball fields, one coach-pitch field, one coach-pitch/girls’ softball field and a major minors baseball field, said PCAA President Shorty Sanders.

But in 2012, a school was built on the site, and the old Pineville Elementary School was demolished. When that happened, the fields were demolished, and teams had to temporarily move to other fields.

The association’s future since has been in question.

The association, which has existed in some form for at least 25 years, serves children throughout the region, including South Carolina, Union County and Charlotte.

During the recent meeting, town staff suggested that Pineville partner with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation to offset some of the costs of building fields where the old school stood. Staff also recommended that CMS convey the land to the county, then the county would agree to a 50-year renewable lease with the town.

To ensure the town keeps a voice in the association, staff suggested the president of the Pineville Community Athletic Association board of directors be Pineville’s athletic coordinator. At least two other members of the board of 15 would also be Pineville residents.

But staff can’t finalize financial plans with the county until the council approves the partnership, said Town Administrator Haynes Brigman.

Pineville’s staff expect to have an agreement with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation by the April council meeting, Honaker said in her report.

Honaker said staff would like the athletic association to play ball on the new fields by Pineville Elementary School by spring 2015. The first phase, which would include construction of three fields, grass, irrigation and limited site amenities, would cost $400,000, staff estimates show.

Honaker said initial estimates (based on informal conversations with the county) suggest Pineville would pay $250,000-$300,000 for the first phase, with the county funding the rest. Staff also revealed that future maintenance costs of the fields and facilities are estimated at $15,000 annually. The project also would include hiring an additional employee for about $32,500 annually.

Davis balked at the cost to the town because she said a small percentage of children participating are residents.

Councilman Les Gladden said he worried that if the town didn’t help the Pineville Community Athletic Association with field construction, another recreation association would court Mecklenburg County into a partnership.

The council unanimously agreed to explore teaming with the athletic association, with no promise of funding. The council also unanimously approved entering discussions with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation about creating a funding strategy.