The Hope Mills Board of Commissioners took action on a proposal to relocate a baseball team to the town, approved a donation to the Police Department and renewed a contract for storm drain cleaning at its meeting Monday.
The board, which met at Town Hall on Rockfish Road, also received criticism from the owner of TJ Robinson Life Center following a “no parking” ordinance discussed in its last meeting.
Baseball team wants to relocate to Hope Mills
The Old North State League made its second presentation to commissioners, proposing to relocate its Fayetteville baseball team — the Chutes — to Hope Mills.
Alex Allred, CEO of the Fayetteville Chutes, initially proposed the move last year, but the board decided against it. This time, instead of asking the town to contribute money to upgrade ballfields, Allred said he’s proposing to spend about $100,000 in upgrades to the Municipal Park baseball field in exchange for exclusive rights for home games and practices on the field.
“We want the town to be involved in the naming process, we want the citizens to have a say, we want the youth teams and the parks and rec teams to be involved with the team and run out with the teams on game days,” Allred told the board.
Commissioner Joanne Scarola shared that the league would retain all revenue from the games and advertising and raised questions about whether the league would have the right to move to other fields constructed by the town. She also shared concerns that the town would be absorbing the cost of the field’s utilities.
Brian McDonald, chair of the Hope Mills Youth Association, said the team will be a benefit for the youngsters in the area.
“Any positive role models to help promote our children to the next level of sports, just in being a grown man, is always a plus,” McDonald said. “I’m all for it at this time.”
The board’s agreed to move forward with negotiations with the Old North State League, but Commissioner Grilley Mitchell told Allred he wants to see a return of investment calculation for Hope Mills, especially since Allred wants a 10-year contract.
Commissioner Jerry Legge said he is hesitant to move forward with the plan since part of the proposal includes selling alcohol at the games.
“I’m not a supporter of beer and wine around kids,” he said. “If it gets to that point, I’m out.”
Scarola was the only commissioner who opposed the proposal.
The board will consider final approval when a contract is provided.
Robinson speaks out about ‘no parking’ ordinance
At the board’s last meeting, a no-parking ordinance for the area in front of T.J. Robinson Center was proposed — for safety reasons — by Commissioner Bryan Marley. The discussion of the ordinance was removed from the agenda by the board, but center owner Charlotte Robinson addressed the issue during the public-comment period of Monday’s meeting.
“One would think general professional courtesy would exist between a municipality and a local business,” Robinson said. “But if that was the case, you would have reached out to me prior to having a meeting about me.”
Robinson said officials from the N.C. Department of Transportation had visited her business several times, including Monday. She stated that a DOT representative told her that a no-parking ordinance would not be enforcable in front of her business.
“They told me they received several letters and calls from the town, their attorney, in the last four months,” Robinson said. “And each time they received that, they made it very clear that signs were not warranted.”
Robinson also cited an incident involving a teen who lost his life on the road in front of her building in a car crash. She said the accident wasn’t related to people parking in front of the center, but rather the speed limit in the vicinity, which drops from 55 mph to 35 mph before a sharp turn in the road.
“This feels like an abuse of power, racial profiling and harassment,” Robinson said.
CityView previously requested the number of complaints made about the parking situation. Hope Mills administrators say the town’s Police Department has received only three parking complaints for that area since the beginning of 2022.
Storm drain cleaning contract, budget ordinances
The board unanimously approved its consent agenda, which included a contract with Ellington Contractors & Intragrade for storm drain cleaning. This will be the fourth year the city has contracted with Ellington. The $100,000 cost was already budgeted in the 2023-24 budget.
“Intragrade has the capability to access all storm drain lines with more efficient equipment. They provide all maintenance equipment and staff along with the latest attachments to provide a level of service unmatched by previous companies,” the agenda item stated.
The board also approved a $750 donation to the Hope Mills Police Department to be used for bicycle helmets at the next bike rodeo.
After a closed session on personnel matters, Legge asked town staff members to look into the pay scale of the Police Department. Mitchell asked for a review of the pay scale for the entire staff. That information will be considered at the board’s next meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 16.