South Charlotte

Sportsplex still on the agenda

The Matthews Sportsplex is still a viable project, according to the Centralina Council of Government staff that has been studying its feasibility since February.

But to be successful, they say, changes must be made. The project needs to be redesigned, heavily marketed with a specialized "hook" and developed over a longer period than planned.

The Sportsplex, in the works for a number of years, will be on land at US-74 and the Interstate 485 interchange. It is to cover 150 county-owned acres with 12 sports fields, trails and a playground area, and another 130 privately-owned acres to be developed as a mixed-use area, with businesses including hotels, restaurants, shops and other family-friendly venues to attract families attending tournaments.

Mecklenburg County has committed $30 million in park and recreation bond money to the project, with Matthews promising to kick in another $2 million. But the county money has been on hold since 2008, when the economy crashed and the county declared itself on a debt diet.

Now Matthews Town Manager Hazen Blodgett and CCOG staff say the county appears ready to start capital spending again, and the Sportsplex project appears near the top of the park and recreation bonds list.

"The county queued in on the economic impact, especially the 130 acres in the mixed-use portion. We want to get an impact analysis to show the county that this project will have a huge economic impact in the area," said Blodgett.

Commissioners approved funding for the economic impact study, which Blodgett says needs to be done quickly as the county faces a mid-June deadline for project prioritization if county commissioners decide to start selling bonds.

In other business, commissioners:

Adopted a public art policy for the town. Guidelines and application forms for interested artists will be available in early summer.

Gave permission for the developer to withdraw Petition 2010-558 for Greenway Cottages, a project that proposed building 18-plus homes on 3 acres of land next to Matthews Elementary School.

Held a public hearing on the 2011-2012 budget, which is proposed to be revenue neutral. This means the town tax rate would drop about 10 percent, from .3325 cents to .3025 cents per $100 valuation, to offset the 10 percent increase in property value due to the recent county-wide revaluation.

Adopted a Tree Harvesting and Forestry Operations ordinance that will give the town some control over clear-cutting within town limits.