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Sale of ballfield could be complicated

By MARLAN JONES,

Mendenhall High School is receiving some much needed improvements to their facilities.

The new field house and band hall are nearly complete and are expected to be in use by the beginning of the 2017-18 school year.

In addition to these facilities, the School Board and City of Mendenhall are currently working on a deal to sell the high school baseball field. Progress has been put on hold due to the changing of leadership at Mendenhall City Hall, but discussion is expected to resume next month.

The deal was first brought to the Mendenhall Board of Aldermen’s attention during the regularly scheduled meeting in February. The Board approved the sale of the field to the Mendenhall High School but would first need to obtain approval from Miss. Dept. of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks.

The board agreed that selling the property to the school would be a wise move, and would allow the school to do much needed maintenance. Mayor Todd Booth estimated up to $150,000 in upgrades were needed for the field that the city cannot afford to invest.

In order to sell the field certain guidelines must be met since it was built using Land and Conservation funds. Before the city can sell the property they must first have the baseball field surveyed and appraised, then find another piece of property similar       to replace the field that is being sold. This property must also be surveyed and appraised. 

Mayor Booth estimated that the cost of two appraisals and surveys would be $4,000.

Once these steps are completed a letter would be drafted and sent to the MDWFP seeking permission to the sell the field and purchase the new property. 

“There is a lot of red tape involved to ever sell that field,” said Booth, with MDWFP having to approve the deal.

According to Booth the city and school board have agreed to split the cost of the appraisals and surveys. The school will pay for appraisals on the current baseball field, and the city will do the same for the qualifying land.

The Mendenhall Board of Aldermen anticipates the qualifying land will be located near the Mendenhall Sportsplex.

Booth said, “We will add on to our current facility and make it bigger.” He explained that the Sportsplex has enough qualifying land around it to satisfy the requirements, but it would have to be purchased from different property owners.

The project is expected to resume soon and the city will be able to move forward with the sale of the baseball field, which will open the door for more improvements around Mendenhall High School.