POMEROY — Pomeroy Mayor Don Anderson and councilwoman Maureen Hennessy addressed the Meigs Local Board of Education on Tuesday evening regarding the fate of the district’s former football field.
Bob Roberts Field and the surrounding property totaling nearly 13 acres were initially sold at auction in March, but when the buyer backed out the district once again made the move to sell the property at auction.
Anderson told the Board of the history of schools and related properties being constructed in Pomeroy with tax dollars from village residents in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Having one of the nicest fields in the league, said Anderson, once the schools consolidated Meigs played its games at Bob Roberts Field in Pomeroy.
With consolidation, Anderson said that the buildings and properties, once no longer useful, should have gone back to the original owners, in this case, the residents of Pomeroy.
“If it was your hometown you would feel that way,” said Anderson of his desire to have the field back for the village he now serves as Mayor. “It just makes sense.”
As for why Anderson wants the property back for the village, he noted that the property backs up to the current sewer treatment plant in the village. Should the village need to expand the plant the football field property, at least a portion of it, would be necessary. Asked how much land the village would need for that expansion, Anderson stated that engineer estimates are that the expansion would take from the scoreboard end of the field out to about the 20 yard line.
“Pomeroy is not a rich village, we watch every nickel,” said Anderson, in noting that the village would ultimately pay for the property if necessary, but could not afford the minimum bid currently in place.
“I am not going to bankrupt the village for a football field,” said Anderson.
“I appreciate where you are coming from and your responsibility to the people of Pomeroy,” said board member Heather Hawley. “My responsibility is to the children of Meigs Local. Taking something of value and giving it away is not responsible….My responsibility monetarily is to the children.”
Hennessy had a different approach for why the village should have the field back, asking the board to reconsider going forward with the auction.
“We have waited 47 years to get the field back to Pomeroy… treat us like Middleport and Rutland. Please return the field back to the village,” said Hennessy.
Board President Ryan Mahr stated while there are some cases in which the school properties have been given back to the villages, that has not always been the case. Mahr and Hawley both noted that they were not on the board at the time of the consolidations and the disposal of the buildings.
Mahr said the board would take the matter under consideration. The board did enter into executive session regarding the sale of property, with no action taken following the executive session.
As previously reported, at an auction held in March, local resident Shannon Spaun was the highest bidder on the property, with a bid of $171,000. Spaun did not complete the purchase of the property.
The currently advertised auction is to be held at 10 a.m. on Aug. 1 near the ticket booth at the old field. The minimum opening bid, according to the legal advertisement of the sale, is $140,000. At the March auction, Spaun and local automotive dealer Mark Porter traded bids from a starting price of $100,000.
This will be the third time the Board had attempted to sell the property, with the first attempt in 2013 being unsuccessful.
Other than the field being used for the flag football program each fall, the field and property were considered to be a liability from an insurance point for the district.
The first game on the Pomeroy field was played in 1950. In 1990, the field and stadium were rededicated and named for longtime educator, coach, and athletic booster Bob Roberts.
The stadium was home to the Pomeroy Panthers football team from 1950-1966 and the Marauders from 1967-2011, when the team moved to the new stadium at Rocksprings.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.