Land purchase discussed for future LA expansion

Dewain E. Peek/OCN screen shot

School Board member Mike Hayes, front, gives information about the possible land purchase, as Director of Schools Mark Winningham, and School Board Chairman Jarman Hicks listen.

By Mac McLeod,

OCN Sports

With the rejection by Overton County Commission to borrow $9 million to build a new sport complex at Livingston Academy back in October, School Board building committee chairman Mike Hayes is now getting ready to go before the Commission once more with a new plan.

At last week’s monthly meeting of the School Board, Hayes told the members that he and county budget director Connie York are working with the same bond company that had agreed to fund the original $9 million to go with approximately $5 million, which was close to the original cost of replacing the current Tom Davis Memorial Stadium at its current location.

“We are working with the bond company and there really should be no problems in obtaining the funds to start work on replacing the current stadium,” Hayes told the Board. “We had worked out a plan to use some $4.7 million out of the balance fund to finance the project at the $9 million, so we will use the same procedure now, getting the funds and paying off the bond out of the balance fund just like we had planned to do.

“Doing it this way, we won’t take a lump sum from the balance fund all at once, but finance it over 12 years,” Hayes continued.

Included in the plan is to buy land behind the current stadium from Dr. Larry Mason to have space for school and athletic growth.

“Dr. (Mark) Winningham (Director of Overton County Schools) and Dr. Mason have plans to meet later this week to discuss the project and acquire a definite price per acre,” Hayes explained. “Right now, the number is somewhere around $10-11 thousand per acre. Dr. Mason has indicated he is willing to sell part or perhaps all of the 136 acres that is currently divided into two parcels.”

Hayes went on to say that he thought it would be beneficial to the school system for the additional land to be purchased for both the growth of the school and a track and other facilities at a later date.

There is a possible meeting between Hayes and the County Commission in December since the School Board will meet before the Commission’s budget committee meets, but if not, it will come in January.

“Once we get the OK from the budget committee, we can get started on actual work on a new stadium,” Hayes concluded. “We will get with the architects to get them started with the drawings and we can get started tearing down the old stadium.

“I know this has taken more time than some would have liked, but when you’re dealing with a project this big and using taxpayers’ money, you have to get it right, and we think we have.”