Protecting an investment

Published 8:46 am Saturday, June 23, 2007

By Staff
When John P. McConnell donated $1 million to the City of Washington to build a sports complex, that gift also resulted in an investment that continues to pay dividends.
The Susiegray McConnell Sports Complex, situated on about 45 acres near the Warren Field Airport, is one of the best sports complexes in the state. It provides recreational opportunities of many kinds to area residents.
The complex’s ball fields, soccer fields, aquatics and fitness center and amenities allow area children and adults to enjoy recreation, socialization and competition at facilities second to none. The complex attracts top-tier tournaments. Tournaments bring in athletes, coaches and their families from throughout the state and outside the state.
McConnell’s investment is paying off in dividends for the city. When hundreds of people come to Washington to participate in and attend tournaments, those people spend nights in area hotel or motel rooms, eat at area restaurants, fill their vehicles with gas at area service stations and convenience stores and shop.
Area business owners take in more dollars and the city receives revenues generated by sales, fuel and occupancy taxes. And if visitors like what they saw during their stops in the city, it’s likely they will come back and spend more time and money in Washington.
Phil Mobley, the city’s parks and recreation director, has made it clear on several occasions that tournaments held at the sports complex help the city’s economy.
Improving the complex by adding another entrance to its facilities makes sense. That’s why the city plans on using a $30,000 gift from McConnell to help pay for that second entrance off Springs Road. The site needed for that second entrance is owned by someone who has not shown interest in selling that land to the city.
The city, if it determines that second entrance is critical to improving and further developing the complex, may have to condemn the land to acquire it. Hopefully, the landowner will decide to sell the land to the city, which would remove the possibility of beginning condemnation proceedings to acquire the land.
Property owners like to do things that result in the values of their properties increasing. The city and its taxpayers, owners of the complex, are no different. Adding a second entrance to the complex would improve it and increase its value. It also is likely it would increase the attractiveness of the complex, resulting in more people using it and attending tournaments there.
The city should do what it needs to do to protect and improve the investment it, John P. McConnell and the public have made in the complex. That investment is paying off in more ways than one.
When people use the facilities at the complex, they, for the most part, are doing things that could keep them healthy. Young children learn the fundamentals of sports and sportsmanship at the complex. And, yes, there are financial benefits associated with the complex.
A second entrance should make access to and egress from the complex safer. Traffic going to the complex will have two choices when it comes to entering and exiting.
The city should redouble its efforts to buy the land. An attractive purchase offer to the landowner should not be out of the question. Neither should condemnation, with the landowner receiving fair-market value for the land, be out of the question.