PCPRD to control youth sports again
by David Atchison
PELL CITY – The City Council voted unanimously Monday night to put the Parks and Recreation Department in charge of all youth sports.

Pell City Parks and Recreation Director Bubba Edge told the council that the city could make a profit by running youth league sports programs and eliminate possible liability issues the city could face.

The city turned the youth sports programs over to local parent sports organizations in 2009.

Edge said if something happened, like a person got food poisoning from something they ate at a concession stand, the city could be liable.

“The city has to maintain the control,” Edge told the council at last week’s work session.

With the 2009 change by the last administration, the city only maintained city sports facilities. Parent organizations actually ran youth sports programs. Prior to that time, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department controlled all aspects of the youth league programs.

“We’re going to get back to handling youth sports,” Edge said. “We’ve already done it before.”

He said revenues for city league sports should exceed expenses for all league sports, which includes youth baseball, basketball, football, softball and soccer.

Edge estimated that youth sports revenues would exceed expenses by $8,396. He said that does not include profits from concessions and fees collected from tournaments.

He said currently the city receives no fee for the use of city facilities when hosting tournaments.

Edge also proposed that the Park and Recreation Department charge $75 per field, per day during the week and $150 per field, per day for weekend use.

He said the city would also oversee tennis tournaments and concessions.

Edge said he hopes the city can make a profit or at least break even with tennis tournaments, as with all youth sports.

“We will run everything, the sports, registration and maintain facilities,” he said.

The Parks and Recreation Department is expected to take over all youth sports by July 1.

Some parents questioned whether their children would benefit from the change.

Tanya Osborne, the secretary for the youth soccer league in Pell City, said their group put in a lot of work and have improved the local youth soccer program.

Osborne said she fears the program will go backwards instead of forward.

Brandon Darby, president of the local soccer program, said the program is well managed and is a feeder program for the high school junior varsity and varsity soccer programs.

He said the youth soccer program is very competitive.

“We’ve made a lot of advancement in this sport,” Darby said.

Council President James McGowan assured soccer parents and others that the city would partner with parents to make all youth sports even better.

“We strongly feel like you will not lose, but we will take you to a higher level,” said City Manager Patrick Draper, adding that parents will sit on advisory panels or boards so the city has input from parents. “We will keep parents informed, and parents will have input.”

Mayor Joe Funderburg said the change is not only because of a liability issue, but also an accountability issue.

“We have to have accountability,” he said. “We have to know what’s going on.”

He said the city only wants to be a partner and the city will work with parents to make the youth sports programs the best they can be.

In other matters Monday night, the council:

• Tabled voting on the city’s agreement with the Pell City Board of Education to share the revenue from the 2010 1-cent sales tax hike.

• In a 2-2 vote, failed to hire Goodwyn, Mills & Caywood in the amount of $500 to complete application for a grant to re-align Jeanne Pruett Drive with Dr. John Haynes Drive.

• Tabled approving a finance company or bank to finance the purchase of a new fire truck.

• Approved soliciting bids to repair lighting at the Eden 156 exit on Interstate 20.

• Reappointed Tommy Bowers to the Pell City Industrial Development Board.

• Appointed Michael Barber, Lance Bell, Cecil Fomby, Lyle Harmon, Barry Miller, Richard Minor and Philip Seay to the city’s D.A.R.E. Board.

• Approved installing two new street lights on Mays Bend Lane.

• Approved soliciting bids to lease a wheeled excavator for the street department.

• Rejected all bids for the wetlands platform project and voted to solicit new bids.

• Approved adjusting water bills for customers who continue to receive discolored water from the city.

• After an executive session, approved to hire Wisener, LLC., of Guntersville to work in the acquisition of property to improve access to Veterans Parkway. The city manager was approved to pay no more than $60,000 to the land acquisition company.

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com

© 2013