NEW CUMBERLAND - The Newell Area Civic Council may be two months late with its request to keep the gates of Newell Memorial Field in the community's hands.
Mike Nixon, president of the council, took his request to the Hancock County commissioners on Tuesday, only to learn that the county's demolition contract with Juszczak Development includes the removal of the gates.
"We're looking at developing that property," Commissioner Jeff Davis said.
FOCUS OF DISCUSSION — The outline of where the memorial plaque used to be can still be seen on the right pillar of the Newell Memorial Field gates. The bronze plaque, which contains the names of Newell natives who died in World Wars I and II, has been moved to the American Legion Post 114. The Newell Area Civic Council wants Hancock County commissioners to donate the gates to the community. -- Stephen Huba
Commissioner Dan Greathouse told Nixon that a potential buyer has already expressed interest in the 4.25-acre site, which the commission bought from the Hancock County Board of Education last December for $400,000.
Nixon wants the commissioners to donate a 40-by-80-foot section of the property to the unincorporated community of Newell so that it can be used as an all-purpose memorial.
"The little area I'm asking for is not going to hurt that property," Nixon said. "This is a part of the heritage of Newell, and we'd like to keep it there."
Nixon wants to improve the memorial gates and keep them where they are as a site where community members can post memorials.
"We'll fix it up and make it look very presentable," he said.
While commissioners did not deny Nixon's request, they said they are limited in what they can do because of their contract with Juszczak.
"Contracts can be changed," Nixon said.
Commissioner Mike Swartzmiller said Nixon should have brought his request to the county months ago, before any decisions were made.
On June 6, commissioners accepted a bid from Juszczak Development to disassemble and haul away all the equipment from Newell Memorial Field, including the visitors' side bleachers, the home bleachers, the press box and all other equipment (fencing, scoreboard and lights).
The bid included a stipulation that Juszczak pay the commission $7,323 for the market value of the scrap material.
Commissioners had hoped to have the property cleared by the end of June, but questions about the utilities and the permanent structures on the site delayed the work, Davis said.
Since the original bid package did not include the concrete pilings that secure the bleachers, Juszczak asked commissioners what should be done with them, Davis said. Commissioners then renegotiated the contract to include demolition and removal of the pilings, the concession stand, the restrooms and the entrance pillars, Davis said.
The top stones that bear the words "Memorial Field" will be removed and kept for future use elsewhere, Davis said.
Nixon said he hoped that the Newell Area Civic Council could use the bricks from the concession stand to make repairs to the memorial gates.
Commissioners took his request under advisement.
Also Tuesday, commissioners:
Approved the retirement of Cindy Jones, administrative assistant for finance, effective Sept. 30; and
Approved an agreement with the Governor's Community Participation Program to administer a $10,000 grant for the Newell Community Improvement Coalition and its Clarke Field playground pavilion project.
(Huba can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)