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School, college agree to Joe Hunter Field lease
by Jason Collins
Feb 06, 2014 | 25 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEEVILLE – It has been months in the making but officials with the school district and the college may have finally reached an agreement on the use of Joe Hunter Field.

Since that time, both athletic departments have been working together under a memorandum of understanding.

Five months ago, the college board voted to cancel the 12-year-old contract that allowed the school district use of Joe Hunter Field.

The termination was brought about due to legal stipulations within that old lease that makes it impossible for the new Cougar baseball team to use the facility while under lease to the Beeville ISD, according to CBC board member Laura Fischer, under advisement of the college’s legal advisers.

Fischer and Board Chairman Paul Jaure said it was the college’s desire to renegotiate the lease as soon as possible with the BISD.

Since then, there has been a back and forth of agreements and amendments between the two entities.

Under the terms of the new lease, the district will pay the college $40,000 for the two-year lease.

This will allow the school district use of the field for both practice and games including the regular season and playoffs.

The prior agreement allowed the high school use of the field for an annual fee of $1.

However, under that old agreement, the district was required to maintain the field.

Under the new agreement, the college “shall coordinate and pay for all other expenses incurred by or for the complex, including the cost of regular custodial and maintenance services...

“It is understood and agreed that the district will not pay any such costs or expenses, nor any other costs of ownership and operation of the complex.”

Since about January, the schools have been operating under a memorandum of understanding. This allowed the school district use of the field while both groups continued “negotiating in good faith the final terms of the interlocal agreement.”

This agreement is only good for two years which allows the school district to continue discussing its next steps.

And those steps could include a new baseball field and stadium.

“That is still in the realm of probability but you can’t do that overnight,” said Dr. Sue Thomas, BISD superintendent.

For now, the district is looking at building a practice field.

The biggest obstacle facing the district is the cost of a stadium.

At about $1.5 million, the endeavor is expensive and then there is also the question of where best to build it.

Thomas said BISD officials had planned to have a presentation on Monday concerning the athletic needs of the schools. However, time constraints have delayed that presentation until, at the earliest, their next meeting.

Matt Huie, school board trustee, reminded those present that the taxpayers may not be eager to fund building a new baseball stadium for the school district and then turn around and pay the same amount to repair the college’s Joe Hunter Field.

About two years ago, an engineer conducting a safety inspection of the Joe Hunter Field area recommended the replacement of the bleachers.

Robert Gadbois, P.E. of Owners Building Resource LP, cited that the stadium bleachers were “typical of a 40-year-old structure” that is exposed to the elements.

The bleachers and walkways are also a problem thanks to their steel construction. Holes have been plated over and welded, but new areas of concern are continually coming to light.

The school district has purchased portable bleachers and placed these past the dugouts, along both baselines, to accommodate the fans attending the games.

Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.
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