Council approves Gainesville ISD baseball field resolution

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GAINESVILLE, TX -- The Gainesville city council voted to help fund a new baseball field Tuesday night. They hope the decision will be a homerun, not just for the school district, but for the entire city.

The council unanimously voted to approve the Gainesville Economic Development Corporation's gift of $200,000 for the new Locke Field. But the decision isn't sitting well with everyone.

Locke Field has been the home of the Gainesville Leopard baseball team for decades. But last year the city council voted to tear it down, to allow for commercial development. So now, the team needs a new spot to play ball.

"From the start we talked about giving some funds to that project to help the school," Mayor Jim Goldsworthy said.

Mayor Jim Goldsworthy, and the rest of the council, voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a $200,000 funding incentive from the Gainesville Economic Development Corporation. It will go toward the new state-of-the-art baseball field near the high school.

But council member Vince Rippy says they shouldn't take the GEDC's money. Rippy could not attend tonight's meeting but told News 12 since he says GISD's budget is at least twice that of the city's, he does not think it's appropriate to use city tax dollars to pay for a school district's sports program.

Mayor Goldsworthy disagrees.

"We're not taking monies away from roads. We're not taking monies away from infrastructure improvements. It's an approved expenditure of economic development money," he said.

GEDC director, Kent Sharp, says under state statute, an amateur sporting facility falls under what the economic development corporation can fund.

"We believe it's a quality of life issue. You know, some economic development projects weigh very much on the industrial side. But to balance that, we believe you have to have some quality of life, be it parks and recreation or athletic facilities. Anything to improve our schools. You know, those are the types of things that bring people to a community that want to live in a community," Sharp said.

The total cost of the new Locke Field is a little more than $810,000. Construction on the new Locke Field is expected to begin in a matter of weeks.

As for what's going in the old field's place, it's possible a 144-unit apartment complex will be built.

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