Pineville Town Council voted Tuesday, March 11, to enter into a partnership with the Pineville-Ballantyne Community Athletic Association that would bring youth athletics under the umbrella of the Pineville Parks and Recreation Department and appoint Pineville’s athletic coordinator Jennifer Honaker as president of the board.
The decision came after council, PCAA leaders and area residents had a somewhat heated debate on the amount of funding the town should provide to the association and to what extent the partnership should grow. There was some hesitancy from Pineville leaders to
support a group that also is heavily involved in Ballantyne, while PCAA leaders are working to change the name of the group to drop the Ballantyne portion – though the group will still be open to all area
PCAA approached the town earlier this year with the partnership agreement in hopes of finding financial support and leadership in the rebuilding of their athletic fields, which previously sat on the campus of Pineville Elementary School. The association hit a roadblock in 2012 when plans for a new Pineville Elementary School from a 2007 Mecklenburg County bond package finally came to fruition. The new school was built in the middle of the association’s old fields – space PCAA had been renting from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for a minimal fee. PCAA was left without a home once construction started, and the group currently uses the fields at South Charlotte Middle School as a temporary home base. They’d like to rebuild in Pineville, which would come at a high cost.
But some town leaders aren’t convinced the financial needs of the association, which last fall served about 13 Pineville students, will be feasible for the town, and early estimates to fully outfit the association would round out to more than $1.1 million.
“I’ll be the first to say I don’t have anything against the PCAA coming back, but I do have a problem with the amount of money this is proposing – we’re looking at a lot of money for 13 kids,” Mayor Pro-tem Melissa Rogers Davis said at the meeting. “Before those old buildings and facilities were torn down, I know they were not worth $1.1 million.”
Tuesday’s vote wasn’t to approve funding just yet, but to first agree to enter into a partnership with PCAA, and secondly, to move forward on working with Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation. The county department has agreed to work with the town to help ease construction costs. Additionally, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation will be key in securing the field space from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and Pineville likely will go into a long-term leasing agreement with the county to secure the space.
“The town looks at it as a way to bring athletics under the umbrella of the town, so we could take advantage of what PCAA has already started,” Haynes Brigman, Pineville’s town administrator, said. “There are various opinions into what it’s going to cost. There are a lot of details that need to be worked out and then to what extent do we have to build on those fields?”
PCAA’s assets were put into storage when construction on the new school began, and many council members and residents alike have questioned whether or not the association would reuse any of those materials. The answer? They’ll use what they can, Brigman said.
“They tried to salvage the fences, but they were either so old or bent or destroyed in the removal and storage process,” Brigman said. “When you see the proposal for the phases, you’ll see $200,000 for the lights, but we may be able to take advantage of the older lights.”
All the details will continue to be ironed out as talks continue with Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, including whether or not the space should be constructed with restrooms and concessions and more specifically, what type of fields should be placed on the space. The town also likely will have to absorb added maintenance and employee costs.
“Construction is more costly than it ever used to be. The fields we had before were built over time. We’re definitely not seeking to build anything bigger than what we used to have,” a representative with PCAA said at the meeting. “It is a reality that to get more kids to play, we do need lights.”
Registration information for PCAA in 2013 shows a total of 335 students combined participated in the spring and fall seasons. Of those numbers, both seasons listed 19 students as Pineville residents, though that includes all of 28134, including residents who live in the unincorporated area along Lancaster Highway and do not pay taxes to the town.
Brigman hopes to bring more specific costs back to town council for a vote in April.
“There is a timeline that both the staff and the PCAA are hoping for in terms of having people play for next season,” Brigman said. “We need to have the grass and seeding going in as soon as May. I would say it needs to be a pretty quick decision.”