City Passes Resolution To Purchase Skip Baughman Land

Pictured is a rendering of plans for the Skip Baughman Complex. St. Marys City Councilors passed a resolution to purchase the 11.959 acres during Monday's meeting.
Managing Editor

With the construction of the Roughrider Athletic Complex taking shape, the city's plans to revitalize the Skip Baughman Complex took a step closer on Monday.

St. Marys Councilors passed a resolution to authorize the city to purchase the Skip Baughman Complex land.

The city and St. Marys City Schools Board of Education has been in discussions for the last few months about the land and the two have agreed on the city purchasing 11.959 acres of the 13.671 acres from the St. Marys City Schools District for $200,000.

The district will then own lot 2 — 1.712 acres of land — which is Cook Gymnasium and the parking that surrounds it. The district still uses Cook Gym for wrestling and baseball practice and the building serves as a storage unit for the district and is used as office space for the wrestling and baseball coaches, according to St/ Marys Athletic Director Jim Hollman.

In a press release the city sent out in November, it stated that the city’s intention was to continue to use Skip Baughman Stadium and the surrounding ground as a site for youth athletics. The visitor stands would be demolished and Law Director Kraig Noble said at the meeting that the home stands will be maintained.

The city also would keep the home concession stand to serve the fields. Skip Baughman Stadium will remain as the main field and used for regular games. The main field could be split up, resulting in up to four youth fields at the location that could host several practice sessions at one time. The lights also would remain at the facility. 

The city also has preliminary plans to build an amphitheater on the east end of the site near the practice football field along South Street and facing the railroad tracks. This would open up the venue to host a variety of activities throughout the year.

"It would be a great open field," Noble said. "People can bring their blankets, lawn chairs, etc. and I think the intention is that SummerFest would move in the area — also Riverside Bluesfest, Waynestock and any of those types of events could be held there. It would serve as a great community center."

Noble added that the corner of South and Front streets would be available. It has yet to be determined, but Noble said that townhouses or condominiums could be built there.

"I would like to see it sold in a public auction so anybody would have a shot of doing something there," he said. "But this is a conceptional plan right now."

Councilman Todd Fleagle asked Noble if the city were to put restrictions on the southwest corner of the land if it were to go to a public auction so no one buys the land and lets it sit.

"One possibility — and we are open to suggestions here — is that the city might even have some plans or ideas drawn up to say, 'this is what we want Mr. or Mrs. builder or developer,'" Noble said. '"We can put up a bid, but you have to agree to build something along these lines.'

"We obviously want something nice there."

Council President Jim Harris asked city administrators if the city was open to using that southwest lot as a future spot for the city's municipal building, but Director of Public Service and Safety Greg Foxhoven said that the city thought it was best for the municipal building to remain downtown.

Councilman James Christman asked if the city considered putting the area up for sale for market value to see if a private individual or organization would be interested.

Noble said the purpose has always been to maintain that land as a public recreation area and added that developing anything else — in what is considered a flood plain — would be too difficult. 

The goal for both entities is to continue to provide a venue for youth sports as well as a gathering place for communitywide events.

Having a centrally located group of fields will benefit the youth sports program in the city. Approximately 150 kids play youth football and 180 participated in flag football, currently. Having one location with multiple fields would help with scheduling and be convenient for parents. 

Council suspended the rules of Ordinance 2019-06 and passed it as an emergency. Christman was the lone council member to vote no on passing the ordinance. The school board will now have to approve the purchase at next month's meeting.