Log in Subscribe

Palmetto commissioners impatient with ballfields issue


PALMETTO - If the North River American Little League was playing in the big leagues, it might be saying, "Play me or trade me."


What: Manatee County Commission meeting.

When: 9 a.m. Tuesday. Ballfields discussion is time certain for 10:30 a.m., but time may vary.

Where: Manatee County Administrative Center, Commission Chambers, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Or, at the very least, "Build me a place to play."

Palmetto's city commissioners Monday night discussed the latest troubles with the plan to build ballfields to replace the ones that will be used to build a new school, and Tambra Varnadore was one of those surprised to learn about the money that has been spent.

The budget amendment resolution was to establish the engineering budget for the 23rd Street realignment project.

"I hesitate to keep moving money and keep moving things forward when no one else is joining us," Varnadore said. "The North River Little League is still not happy with the proposal."

She said she was surprised that the city had spent $60,000 to $80,000, and thought it was more like $30,000.

On Tuesday, the matter will be discussed before the Manatee County Commission, and Allen Tusing said he hoped to have a better answer about the other entities after that meeting.

Members of the commission said they planned to attend the County Commission meeting, which has a time certain of 10:30 a.m.

Tamara Cornwell pointed out that with the use of federal stimulus funds, the city needs to move forward or they will lose the money and have to come up with the difference, $800,000.

Tusing, the Public Works director, said the money in the resolution before the commission was to pay for services already provided.

"We need to move funds to pay for the services that have already been rendered," he said. "We have an approved contract and they've been working diligently for us. I have no way of paying them if you don't move those funds.

"I can stop them at this point, but I need to pay them for the services they've already provided."

Brian Williams then asked when the city would decide it couldn't do the street realignment and would not be able to build the fields alone. "Do you think we'll ever come to that decision?" he asked.

Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant said the city would know that after Tuesday's County Commission meeting.

"At every single meeting we've had, I have pointed out that we are the smallest entity, with the smallest budget, the lowest number of staff members, and we can't do it alone," she said. "That's been repeated at every meeting we've had."

For Williams, it was just not seeing any results that seemed to bother him. "We keep putting money and money and money into this project, and putting aside funds, and at some point in time -," he said, but was interrupted by Bryant: "We're talking tomorrow at 10:30."

Cornwell said 23rd Street needs to be realigned in any case. "Everything that our staff has told us is that it's got to be realigned," she said. "I have to go on their expertise."

Bryant said she was frustrated about going to meetings and trying to get what she said was the best deal for the players and the community, and going around and around with old and rejected plans coming up again and again.

Mary Lancaster said the commissioners should be looking forward to see how to get it done, and not lose the money that they have. "We're trying to get something that we can be proud of," she said.

"We're just trying to get a bill paid," Tusing said, then launched into a related topic about 23rd Street. On our realignment of 23rd, they had to acquire enough land to build the complex, and he said he was confident that they'd get support from the county and even the School Board.

But an issue that arose on Friday was the federal stimulus money. Moving the road north to move the intersection moves the road too close to a mobile home park, and the federal government says it's not willing to go forward with the stimulus at the current location unless the intersection is moved back to where it was.

In other words, they could end up moving the road up enough to get the land, and then could have to move the intersection back. "It's just not a good place for an intersection," he said. "The intersection needs to be moved."

Public hearings might result if there's a complaint, Tusing said. "If one person complains about noise or anything during the construction, they will pull in midstream and get the money back," he said. "I don't want to put the city in that position."

A meeting has been set up to see about state dollars to replace the federal dollars. There was some good news, that the stimulus dollars could go back to resurfacing.

Alan Zirkelbach said he had a sense that there was support to get it moving. He said they had met with the Little League people and the county. "I think the county in general is supporting where this whole thing is going," he said. The key thing would be Tuesday at the County Commission. "I almost would rather see us approve this and move this forward, and if there's an issue with it, retract it at some point in time. But I agree we've got to pay for the work that we've asked to be done, and frankly, the last thing I'd want to do is demotivate whoever's working on it when we need this done as quickly as possible."

He had hopes to surprise the league with the fields, he said, at one time.

Williams said the commissioners are for the kids, and voted to move $800,000 to protect the stimulus. "I'm looking out for the taxpayers," he said. "We have a job up here that includes not just the kids but the taxpayers."

Lancaster said that she did not want to give the impression that any of the commissioners did not support the kids.

After a long discussion, the motion passed 5-0.

The commissioners also passed 5-0:

  • Police Department seeking authorization to have a traffic study performed for the placement of new stop signs on the northbound and southbound lanes at the intersection of 9th Avenue West and 15th Street West.
  • Annual renewal of the Police Department fleet maintenance contract Lex's Automotive and 4-Wheel Drive Repair Inc. for a term ending Sept. 30, 2010.
  • FY 2010 budget amendment to record acceptance of the Palmetto Mobile Technology Improvement Project grant funds.
  • Acceptance of the FY09 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program and FY2010 budget amendment to record the grant funds.
  • ZNS Engineering contract extension: Staff requests approval of a six-month extension to the ZNS Engineering contract expiring Oct. 15 and approval of the proposed fixed Planning Services fee. An RFP for engineering services is being developed for the bid process.

The following items passed 5-0 on the consent agenda:

  • Family Resources-Manatee Interagency Agreement
  • BIS Digital minutes software purchase (brought forward from workshop meeting)
  • Palmetto High School Homecoming Parade, an addition to the consent agenda.

The following items were taken off the consent agenda for discussion, and passed 5-0:

  • Special Function Permit for First Baptist Church Fall Festival
  • Estuary Park Grant Kimley Horn engineering project (brought forward from workshop meeting)

At the CRA meeting, the board approved 4-1 a motion to eliminate dates from storefront grant applications.


No comments on this item

Only paid subscribers can comment
Please log in to comment by clicking here.