County ‘can’t compromise on compromise,’ cancels meeting

Published 11:42 pm Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It appears there are now three strikes against a proposed joint venture between the City of Andalusia and the county commission that would have renovated and increased the number of ball fields at Johnson Park.

Chairman Lynn Sasser said Tuesday that the commissioners’ failure to agree on a compromise amongst themselves has prompted the cancellation of today’s scheduled county commission workshop. That workshop, which was set to discuss ways to provide ball fields for the county’s youth, as well as financial assistance to the cities of Opp and Florala for their youth sports programs, was set to kick off at 9 a.m.

“If there’s any further discussion on the ball fields, it’ll have to be done at Monday’s meeting,” Sasser said. “We never could come to a compromise on what the compromise should be.”

The proposed project, which would have increased the number of fields at Johnson Park from six to eight and would have given equitable playing time to both the city and county league, was originally presented to the commission in August. Discussions were first tabled to “gather more information; and at the last commission meeting, the measure failed with a 3-2 vote. Commissioners Bragg Carter and Carl Turman each voted “yes.” Commissioners David Ellis, Harold Elmore and Sasser each voted “no.”

Sasser said since then, individual discussions with fellow commissioners have yielded no suggestions on how to fund the joint venture’s $45,000 annual price tag or how to give equitable funding to Opp and Florala.

“It was my suggestion that we take that $45,000 and try to split it between the three cities,” he said. “We have to stay within our means, that’s what I keep telling people. I’ve talked with people, and they don’t want (the county) to take on any new debt.”

Sasser said his suggestion was to offer Andalusia $20,000 a year for the upkeep and maintenance on the current six fields, which are now under renovation at Johnson Park; give $20,000 to Opp and the remaining funds to Florala.

“But we could never compromise,” Sasser said. “So there was really no point in a workshop. Plus, it would still have to go before the commission for a vote and then to all three cities.

“I think we can help everyone without taking on a new debt,” he said. “We just have to find a way to do it.”

City officials have already begun the demolition portion of the project and have stated previously that no changes to the number of fields can be made once construction begins.

When asked how the county plans to accommodate the county’s ball leagues during the upcoming season, Sasser said, “That’ll have to be worked out somehow.”

The next county commission meeting is set for 9:30 a.m. on Mon., Sept. 13.