Columbia Parks and Recreation
Creating Community through People, Parks and Programs
While the land was donated by the American Legion, the City did incur costs of $150,000 to extend the city's sewer lines to the property. This money was appropriated from the Capital Projects Fund.
The City also entered into an agreement in March 2001 with American Legion Herbert Williams Post 202 to have the right of first refusal on the remaining 3.09 acres retained by them. The City paid $3,000 to Post 202 upon execution of the right of first refusal agreement.
In 2006, Columbia Professional Baseball, LLC, owners of the minor league professional baseball team - the Columbia Diamonds (formerly Mavericks), approached the City Council with a proposal to build a sports complex on the site of American Legion Park.
After a public hearing on June 19, 2006, the City Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Columbia Professional Baseball contingent upon satisfactory arrangements being made for replacement fields and endorsement of the MOU by the American Legion Herbert Williams Post 202.
On December 11, 2007, representative of Columbia Professional Baseball secured the endorsement of the members of American Legion Post 202 for the proposed stadium agreement. Under the agreement, American Legion would receive revenue for renting out its meeting hall for events, with a guaranteed minimum of $50,000 annual income. Columbia Professional Baseball would also provide as much as $250,000 in renovations to the Legion's meeting hall, which the Legion would continue to own and maintain.
The impact to the Parks and Recreation Department would be the loss of the park, including two baseball fields, one of which being the only regulation-size baseball field in the City's park system. The execution of the MOU with Columbia Professional Baseball was the impetus for the City to begin development of two baseball fields at Atkins Park. The City Council decided to move the $325,000 2005 Park Sales Tax ballot funds identified for American Legion Park improvements to the youth athletic fields at Atkins Park project. (See related Council items.)
By the close of Fiscal Year 2009, Columbia Professional Baseball had not returned to the City to discuss an agreement for the use of American Legion Park. Therefore, in Fiscal Year 2010 a capital project was budgeted with Recreation User Fee funds for improvements to American Legion Park, with some of the work being accomplished with in-house labor.