Debate over the future of historic Locke Field

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GAINESVILLE, TX -- Controversy surrounds an historic baseball field in Gainesville. The City Council believes Locke Field would be a prime location for a new apartment complex, but some residents are crying foul.

City officials say two years ago resident's voted to lease Locke Field for a future movie theater and shopping center, but now that the council is thinking about leasing the nine acre field to a company that would build a gated apartment complex resident's are speaking out.

Duane Walterscheid says his family enjoys Locke Field and he does not want anything happen to it.

"I like it a lot it's very family oriented. I mean if they want to they can build an apartment complex, but not there," Walterscheid said.

Lifetime resident Liz Gregory agrees. She says the field that has been around since the 1940s hits close to home.

"During the fair time it was a happening field. They had gospel music, country music and it was a lot of fun, and my mom told me back in the 40s Elvis Presley was there," Gregory said.

However, Gainesville City Manager Barry Sullivan says the city needs more living space to accommodate its growing economy, which many companies have endorsed.

"We've had a new local manufacture just break ground on a new $26 million dollar facility to build insulation board so that's going to be an additional 40 jobs in the community," Sullivan said.

Sullivan says a new apartment complex will generate at least $250,000 in new annual taxes, some of which would go to the city.

"What that would mean to an individual citizen is that means that tax burden is spread out to somebody else and helps keep our tax rate low," Sullivan said.

He says no decisions have been made yet, and after hearing from the public at last weeks hearing deciding Locke Field's future will be a tough choice to make.

"We're truly looking at what will be to the benefit to Gainesville as a whole and nothing that happens here is meant to diminish the memories that people have," Sullivan said.

"There's just a lot of memories and I feel like that's the last old thing left here in Gainesville and I'd really hate to see any thing happen to it," Gregory said.

Sullivan says the land would be ideal to use for an apartment complex because it has access to utility lines. He says a decision will be made sometime within the next month or two.

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