Editor:

Did the Florence City Council violate the spirit of Alabama law with their gifting of Cox Creek Park property to UNA for a softball/baseball complex? Please note that my concern is with the property for a baseball field. City Attorney Musgrove, the sponsor of the ordinance, listed the following as justification for the City’s action.

“The city of Florence, Alabama owns certain surplus real property located at Cox Creek Park that has been approved for subdivision and conveyance by the Florence Planning Commission. The City Council hereby finds and determines that the property is not needed for public or municipal purposes and that it is in the best interest of the public to transfer the property.”

Advance notice of this action was not given to the citizens of Florence.

A review of council’s agendas for February, March, and for April 2 did list where the Florence Planning Commission (FPC) appeared before the council to state their approval for the ‘subdivision and conveyance.’

Before granting this approval, the FPC should have known how far is it from home plate to the outfield fences, how far it is from home plate to screen behind the plate, how far from first and third bases to the sideline fences, the room needed for bleaches, press box, locker rooms, for players, and for restrooms. Also the FPC should have known whether fair or foul balls can reach Cox Creek Parkway and Fairground Road which are heavy traveled.

In addition, did the FPC know the location at the new site for the Josh Willingham Batting Cage. Also, will the building having public restrooms remain if the baseball field is at the park?

The noted concerns should have been known by the FPC prior to giving their approval. The same is true for the council.

I also do not agree with the statement, “The property is not needed for public or municipal purposes and that it is in the best interest of the public to transfer the property.” There is a Little League field that has been used for practice time. This field has lights and a scoreboard. I am not sure if league games are played at this field. There is also a small playground that needs some care. This playground is used by very young children and it serves as a bridge to the playground at Diebert Park. What is the basis of the proof that this transfer is in the best interest of the public?

My guess is the council and Musgrove will deem the Florence Golf Course property and the ECM property to be surplus and will approve it being gifted to UNA at some future meeting.

Please note that I support UNA by my attendance at sporting events, especially basketball. As noted above my biggest concern is with how this was handled by the Florence City Council, Florence Planning Commission, and UNA President Kitts.

Bill Smoak

Florence