Worcester County officials continue to pursue their desire to see a major sports complex established in the county, and last Tuesday saw some progress after one of two prerequisite appraisals was completed.
The county commissioners voted 5-2 to proceed with the second appraisal, which is necessary in order to secure Program Open Space funding. Commissioners Jim Bunting and Chip Bertino opposed the vote.
“The property that we’ve been looking at for a possible sports complex, in order to apply for Project Open Space money, we need two appraisals,” Commissioner President Joe Mitrecic said. “The owner of the property has done one and we would need to do another one to apply for Project Open Space money to fund that.”
The results of the first appraisal were not yet known, Mitrecic said. He also urged the commissioners not to mention the address of the property in discussing it.
County officials have been working on the idea for two years with the Recreation and Parks Department and the Office of Tourism and Economic Development as a way to bring more sports tourism — and revenue — to the county.
Bunting’s vote in opposition was in line with his stance at a January discussion and vote, when he voted against opening up the search to all locations and funding options.
“I will not vote for it unless it’s funded privately and not by the county,” Bunting said in January. “This is wrong. This was orchestrated.”
Bunting said he would endorse private ownership but couldn’t support the county owning the complex because “we don’t make a penny on anything we do.”
Bertino back in January echoed the same sentiment — despite not actually voting in opposition to that motion.
“(We were given) update on the southern part of the county — there was nothing about what the options were or what revenue there was,” Bertino said. “I just say that because there is an agenda, I believe, to get this thing built and have the county taxpayers on the hook for it and I certainly oppose that.”
Project Open Space could solve the issue of taxpayer money being used. Then-director of Recreation and Parks and Tourism and Economic Development Tom Perlozzo said that if the county acquired a piece of land outright, 100 percent of that could be reimbursed by the program.
In addition, Worcester County would receive about $600,000 a year, according to Perlozzo, and 75 percent of that could be used for development and 25 percent for acquisition.