August 8, 2013
During a special meeting Wednesday the Sedalia 200 School District Board of Education approved Jennie Jaynes stadium be declared surplus property, clearing the way for it to be sold ahead of the construction of a new sports complex at Smith-Cotton High School.
Superintendent Brad Pollitt said declaring the property surplus is a legal measure the district must take, it does not mean the land will be put up for auction.
“Legally we have to declare it surplus if we want to sell it down the road,” he said. “We will still own the property in the meantime.”
The district is now waiting on the Sedalia City Council’s authorization for the Parks and Recreation Department to purchase the land, valued at $1 million. Initially, the land was going to be used as the site of a city community center to be run by the Parks Department. However, the original plan for an unnamed donor to buy the property and then donate it to the Parks Department with an agreement for naming rights has snagged, with some city officials wanting to buy the stadium outright, rather than tangle with a naming-rights issue before fundraising efforts for the project were underway.
Before a Sedalia City Council pre-meeting Monday, Ward 4 Councilman Larry Stevenson handed out a “motion” to council, city staff and members of the media that called for council to authorize the Parks Department to purchase the land at $250,000 per year for the next four years. Council had discussed the purchase of the property in a closed door session, but Stevenson told the Democrat he wanted to discuss it during an open session.
“(At the closed door meeting) there were a lot of non-council people there,” Stevenson said. “For a closed-door meeting, I think it just has to be council and maybe an attorney. We had all sorts of people there, I don’t think it counted as closed-door.”
According to the Missouri Sunshine Law, a public entity may close a meeting to the public if legal advice is being discussed, including the sale or purchase of real estate and Stevenson’s discussion of closed door matters may have been in violation of state law.
During the regular meeting Stevenson missed his opportunity to discuss the stadium issue and following the meeting council went into another closed-door session to discuss the matter further.
Pollitt had no comment on the Stevenson-proposed motion but did say the school board stipulated the old stadium be sold before work could begin on the new one.
“We’re moving forward (with construction) but no contracts are being signed until the sale of the stadium,” he said.
The new stadium — which Pollitt said may retain the Jennie Jaynes name — is estimated to cost between $6.3 and $7 million and will include a synthetic turf field, a practice field, an all weather track, a concession building and a fieldhouse on land behind SCHS. Along with the $1 million from the sale of the old stadium and $2 million in private donations, the rest of the funding would come from the district’s Fund 4 Capital Project fund. No tax increases will be necessary for its completion, Pollitt added.
“I think the stadium will be a wonderful addition to the building and to the community,” he said. “The district, the city and the Parks Department have been working together for a while now to not only bring a new stadium to Sedalia, but a community center as well. Right now we’re in a holding pattern until the council decides to act.”