The Albia Community School District and the Monroe County Conservation Board are closer to cutting a deal for management of the Monroe County Sports Complex.

The Conservation Board, represented by Kathy Brown and Mark Carlton, presented a 13-point document for the board’s consideration at Monday’s school board meeting. In general, the board was positive toward the agreement. There were a couple of sticking points that Superintendent Kevin Crall said he hoped could be worked out.

Under the proposed agreement, the county and the Conservation Board would maintain ownership of the Sports Complex. And any improvements on the real estate would be owned by the county. The board was in agreement that the school district (at this point) does not want to own the land, particularly because of immediate improvements that would have to be made in terms of creating handicapped accessible sidewalks and other facilities.

Any future improvements would come before the Conservation Board for review and approval.

One of the major sticking points was resolved when the Conservation Board said that they would continue to maintain and manage the hitting and pitching facility. “The 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operation of the hitting and pitching facility never really fell into our wheelhouse,” said Crall.

Under the agreement, all grounds would be operated and maintained by the school district, including mowing, weeding, trimming of fence lines and lots, the ball field preparation and maintenance. The school board was agreeable to that point, except that Superintendent Crall said he would prefer the school operate the facility only during the times the school teams were using it (approximately May 1-Aug. 1. “I’m really not interested in doing work for AAU teams,” he said. He also wanted some language in the agreement that would eliminate the district from any liability if the Sports Complex fell out of compliance with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) or ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) rules.

Under the proposed agreement, the Conservation Board will leave a three-wheeled drag machine, John Deere Gator and pull-type drag for use by the school district and monies already controlled by the Sports Complex Board will be used for the repairs of the tennis court, softball field and other projects for which they were ear-marked.

The school district would manage the day-to-day operations of the Sports Complex, it’s expenses, program expenses and requests for assistance. It would also coordinate scheduling games and practice sessions for all teams using the facility. Again, Crall suggested an May 1-Aug. 1 time frame for management.

The school district would maintain and operate the restroom facility and concession stand. “I’d prefer that operation be for school district events only,” said Crall.

The school district would also provide liability insurance for the Sports Complex, approved by the Conservation Board and the county’s insurance carrier.

After some board discussion, Crall said he would submit a counter proposal to the Conservation Board and begin work on a 28E agreement. He said he had already been in contact with Joe Starcevic, the board’s general counsel.

The board did not discuss how the facility might be operated outside the April 1-Aug. 1 time-frame, since Little League, Rathbun Area Babe Ruth, travel teams and recreational basketball, tennis and slowpitch teams use the facility starting as soon as the fields dry out in the spring and going on into the fall months.

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