Assistant City Manager Kevin Huckabee said city council members on Tuesday voted to purchase the property, at Farm-to-Market Road 346 and County Road 2133, and directed city staff to work with the league and develop a plan for renovations that would not include a tax increase. He said three teenagers addressed the city council and voiced "concerns about the future of their ballpark" before the decision was made.
"(Applause) rang from the attendees and the council after the three teenagers spoke," the release states. "Soon after hearing their statements, city council jumped at the opportunity to secure the well-being and quality of life for the children of the city and surrounding community."
Huckabee said the purchase price is about $60,000, and the city has an estimate of $800,000 for the renovations, which includes things such as field work and lighting improvements. But he noted the $800,000 is simply one estimate and said the city plans to do more research and seek additional bids.
"It's just a great thing for us to do this. … It's a huge step to helping the youth out for the city," Huckabee said.
Councilman Charles Parker added, "I think this will mean we'll get more (participation) in local leagues again (and) will draw tournaments to Whitehouse. … I just think it's a good deal for all of us."
Discussions in regard to a partnership between the city and league have been ongoing.
Huckabee said the league, a nonprofit, will still work with the city in the future.
"The (league) will carry on by working with city officials for recommendations of future renovations to the complex and managing the leagues," a news release states. "The (league) will work alongside with Whitehouse Parks and Recreation Director Don Branam to upgrade the complex to be one of the finest in East Texas."
Parker said the goal is to break ground this fall and to have the complex ready for next spring.
"It's exciting. … I think everyone's just excited to be a part of it and what it will (bring to the community)," Huckabee said.