By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 —
For seven years now, the Wiscassett Mills property has sat unused in the hopes of finding an industry that would take over the facility and bring new jobs and income for Stanly County.
A new proposal launched last Thursday at a public forum gave Albemarle residents the opportunity to examine and comment on a preliminary plan from Parks & Recreation to turn the property into a multi-field athletic complex.
The plans for the property on Salisbury Avenue just off U.S. Highway 52 are to build three 200-foot fields for baseball and softball, along with two 325-foot fields which could accomodate high school and adult baseball and softball.
It was necessary to have the plan in place, according to AP&R Director Toby Thorpe, before his department could begin soliciting funds through various sources to begin work on the project.
One reason that ball fields are more feasible than an industry, Thorpe said, is that because the property is in a low area, flooding is possible, which would be easier for ball fields to withstand than a private business.
A total of 109 people participated in the open forum at Albemarle Optimist Park and AP&R staff received overwhelmingly positive feedback. according to Thorpe.
“No one indicated an unwillingness to apply for Parks And Recreation Trust Fund grant funding,” Thorpe said.
Participants voted on their interest in different extras, such as playgrounds, skate parks, dog parks, paved trails and other features.
“Baseball and softball fields were the leading amenity requested, but there was a good amount of support for other items,” Thorpe said.
“We might keep one of the walls and build a stage for performances, movies and so on.”
Anissa Chapman, an attendee at the forum, said new ball fields “would be appealing” to children and “would say to kids that they are important to us.”
Chris Moon, president of the Albemarle Youth League, talked about his experience with travel ball and how local hotel, restaurant and other revenues would increase with the new complex.
“You would be surprised the number of people and how much it would bring in,” Moon said.
“An average all-star team could spend up to $2,000 for a two-night stay.”
No time table has been set on the multi-million dollar project.
To submit story ideas, contact Charles Curcio at (704) 982-2121, ext. 26, or email charles@stanly newspress.com.