Baynard Stadium task force on hold until next year, to focus on underserved youth
A new task force to consider plans for the upkeep of Baynard Stadium and other city parks is on hold until next year.
City councilman Nnamdi Chukwuocha laid out his goals for the task force during the Education, Youth and Family Committee session. The chair wants a plan for Baynard that prioritizes the city’s underserved youth.
Chukwuocha is worried about too much private control of the stadium. He said a proposed 50-year lease deal between the city and Salesianum - leaving Sallies to run the facility with an option to renew for another 50 years - could leave some groups out.
“There was an array of issues from the need of investment ownership, the length of the contract," Chukwuocha said. "Most of the lease agreements with the city I believe the longest one I’ve seen was 25 years.”
Chukwuocha also echoed concerns from city youth football leagues about their access to Baynard since specifics on how the stadium would be shared weren’t spelled out in the lease.
“As far as the true hours of when it’s used for youth programming, youth football on a Saturday or Friday night – that’s the same time that the high school is using it," Chukwuocha said. "So how are you going to increase usage for these groups who don’t have access? And those are questions that no one is providing answers to but saying this is a great thing for the city and city youth.”
Kery Galloway is the President of No Limit Youth Athletics, which operates the Hurricane city football league.
Galloway says they’d like to have access to fields like Baynard. His league currently shares the dirt field at Eden Park with two other youth programs and semi-pro teams, making scheduling difficult.
“We all have to sit down and work it out, ok, well our game is scheduled for this day but so is ours so then ok you can get it this week and we’ll have to travel somewhere else and play and then next week ok, I’ll let you guys play there this week and we’ll go and travel," Galloway said.
Galloway said his league used to play at Baynard, but paying weekend referee fees as high as $700 without the ability to run concessions made it cost prohibitive for his non-profit.
Chukwuocha says that since his committee doesn’t have the power to establish the task force, its creation will likely fall on the city’s next council president.
Council president-elect Hanifa Shabazz joined Chukwuocha in suggesting the task force examine funding for all public parks in the city like Eden Park – not just Baynard Stadium.
The task force – if approved by Council – is scheduled to meet from January through March of next year.
Salesianum President Brandan Kennealey said that after the task force's analysis is complete, he'd still consider a new agreement depending on its terms.