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City acquires last of Field of Dreams land

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By Marty Finley

 

By MARTY FINLEY mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com

ELIZABETHTOWN — Progress on the Field of Dreams multi-sports complex propelled forward Wednesday with a major land purchase to round out the three-property purchase plan devised for the project.

The Elizabethtown Tourism and Convention Bureau announced at its regular meeting that the city of Elizabethtown has reached an agreement with Flint Group to purchase land its their facility on Ring Road.

The land is the final property needed to complete the plan for the complex. Tourism Bureau Chairman Eric Brandenburg said the land was not the original third property the city was trying to acquire, but said the city had to move in another direction once officials realized the land could not be obtained, leaving an opening to negotiate for the Flint property at a cheaper price.

The other two pieces of land are on the Lucas Farm property near St. John Road and have already been purchased by the city. City Planning Director Ed Poppe said the city will now conduct a survey to see how much land they can purchase from Flint, which could be up to 50 acres at $5,000 an acre, or $250,000 if the city purchases the entire parcel.

As the survey is being conducted, the tourism bureau, city officials and local sports league representatives will begin meeting and discussing plans for the final incarnation of the design plan. Both the city and the bureau have been working with Lexington-based M2D Design Group to modify the original design plan to include the new property.

ECTB Director Sherry Murphy said the sports leagues were included in the original plan, and the bureau plans to keep them abreast as changes are made. She said they are stakeholders with a considerable influence. “Their opinion is very important,” she said.

A small portion of land will be retained by the company for possible expansion directly behind its facility, and a partition will be erected between the two properties, according to a joint press release issued by the city and the bureau.

Mayor David Willmoth said the city is appreciative of Flint for negotiating for the property and hopes to close the deal within a month. He said the idea for the third piece of land was spurred by touring other facilities that are similar to the Field of Dreams, which led to the reorganization of the layout and the need for more land. In addition to the purchase, Poppe said that Jennings-Essex Construction is on site to build the entrance and sign project recently approved by the city and the bureau. The entrance will be located on St. John Road and include a limestone wall, statues, flagpoles, landscaping and an identification sign. Murphy said she was happy that they could get over the hurdles and start to close in on the completion of the design plan. She said people should expect to see a lot of activity concerning the project in the ensuing months. “We’re excited to finally be moving forward.”

She said some felt that as soon as the restaurant tax was implemented last October that the project would immediately come together, but projects like these never do.

“The scope of the project just requires a lot of planning,” she said.

Murphy said they are now looking to complete the design plan soon, adding that, at the very latest, the plan would be finished by the end of the year.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762.