City passes on offer for recreation
An offer by Baker University which would have given Baldwin City $225,000 and use of land for a community center and ballfields in developer Michael C. Green's proposed new addition north of town has been turned down by Baldwin City officials.
Under the plan, Green would have purchased 50.7 acres of land north of the present ballfield area which also borders County Road 1055 from Baker at a cost of $225,000. Green would have then set aside 16.3 acres of that land for a community center to be built on it and leased to the city. Baker would have turned over the $225,000 from the sale to the city to help with construction.
Baker would have also retained 14 acres of land next to that land where Green would have helped build ballfields. Baker would have then leased the land to the city for $1 a year for the next 25 years to ensure that it was used for ballfields.
What cooled the city to the plan, according to Mayor Stan Krysztof, were stipulations that the city would have to buy out and move the Palmyra Township firestation along road 1055; pave Eisenhower Street to State Lake Road; an indoor pool would have to be built in the community center; and that the city would have to lease or purchase the land for the community center from Green.
"We just felt it was way too expensive to accept the kind offer and that's why we turned it down," said Krysztof. "If you take about three-quarters of the stipulations out, it becomes interesting."
No cost estimates were available for relocating the Palmyra Township building and buying the land. Cost of the community center was unknown, too, but was estimated around $2 million. Baker had also pledged $10,000 a year for maintenance of the pool, Krysztof said.
The mayor said that although there had been no discussion of the offer during city council meetings both open to the public and in executive session closed to the public he spoke with each council member individually and determined the consensus was "no" to the plan. The city let Baker know of its decision last week.
"The council was made aware and the nodding of the heads said no," Krysztof said.
The mayor has said solving recreational needs is a priority and the city has been actively seeking land for possible purchase. The current ballfields are on school district owned land and as space needs there become more critical, those fields will eventually be gone. A Recreation Task Force was formed by Krysztof and has recommended that a community center be built.
But, apparently, that won't happen at the northern location. Baker will now sell the entire acreage to Green. Baker will, however, retain ownership of an area of land there that currently has soccer fields.
"Sure we're disappointed," said Bob Layton, Baker vice president of financial services. "We would have liked to have seen the land developed in some way that could have benefited the kids in Baldwin and the city in general.
"It was a very good deal. We would have loved to have worked with the city," Layton said. "We were willing to put the cash on the line. We thought maybe there was one last chance. I'm not sure what else I can say."
Repeated attempts to contact Green were unsuccessful.