South Charlotte

Town and CMS eye sports pact

The town of Mint Hill is hoping to sign a joint-use agreement with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools to allow town-sanctioned sports groups - in particular the Mint Hill Athletic Association - to use the fields and gymnasiums at Bain Elementary School, Northeast Middle School and Independence High School free when those facilities aren't used by the school system.

In return, the town will maintain the fields at Independence and Northeast Middle as well as refinish the gym floors at both schools. The cost is expected to be about $25,000.

Mike Raible of Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools says there are 69 joint-use contracts in the county, and all are different.

"Huntersville pays to increase the size of the new elementary school gyms, and in return they use them when we don't need them. Charlotte Mecklenburg Park and Recreation has done the same thing with small recreation centers in the gyms in Berewick, Thomasboro and Hickory Grove elementary schools," Raible said.

The agreement must be approved by the CMS board before it goes into effect. Raible says the item will be placed on the board's agenda at an upcoming meeting.

Mint Hill Athletic Association's Don McDaniel said the agreement would give the association room to expand.

"I see this as a huge benefit to the Athletic Association. We gain space and we're always looking to expand our programs. One program we had to cut was 5- and 6-year-old basketball. We want to add that back, and we also want to add lacrosse," McDonald said.

Independence Principal Mark Bosco says the agreement is an opportunity for the school and community to work together.

"I think the joint-use agreement between the town of Mint Hill and Bain Elementary, Northeast Middle and Independence will be a win-win for all parties. For the schools, the agreement takes the burden of maintaining the athletic playing surfaces off schools and the district. The town gains access to athletic space at no additional charge. With proper management, the athletic complex at the three schools could literally become community space," Bosco said.

In other business, commissioners held a public hearing on the proposed 2010 Comprehensive Land Use Plan. All 10 members of the public who came to the podium asked commissioners to vote against the plan and keep the existing plan, approved in 2000, in place.