Purcellville residents will see new management at Fireman’s Field by the start of next year, but it remains unclear what those changes will bring.
The current lease with the Loudoun County Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services expires Dec. 31. Since the county did not want to renew it, the Town Council is searching for a firm to manage the 15.89-acre complex and, ideally, have the property generate more income for the town.
The town received one bid, which is under review by an administrative team, made up of staff from finance, legal and public works. Play to Win, which operates the Evergreen Sportsplex south of Leesburg, Lifeview Real Estate and nonprofit organization ECHO (Every Citizen Has Opportunities) teamed up for the proposal to manage operations at Fireman’s Field, Bush Tabernacle, Haske Field and Dillon’s Woods.
The town had talks with the bidders last week and a best and final offer will be presented to town council on Nov. 14, according to Councilman Ryan Cool.
“Town staff, both past and present, all agreed, with council as well, that the approach we are taking is the best approach for the town,” Cool said.
The county has leased the property since 1984, even before the town acquired it. Cool said a key concern is that the complex needs upgrades that the county’s parks department isn’t willing to pay for.
He said a private-sector contract could address that and expand use of the property.
“There’s so many things that we can do,” Cool said. “Why don’t we utilize the facilities?”
Although the county pays the town nothing to lease the property, it has made $600,000 in upgrades to the control booth, storage buildings and maintenance shed.
The town does, however, receive some revenue from the complex. The Purcellville Teen Center, which is under contract to manage operations at Bush Tabernacle until October 2020, pays the town $31,200 annually in rent—the town’s only contractual revenue stream from the complex. If the town brings in a new firm to manage all operations within the Fireman’s Field complex, it could terminate the teen center’s contract three years early.
According to Purcellville Teen Center President Phil Message, the center has been left in the dark about the negotiations and could be pushed out altogether.
Last spring, Message told the council he was interested in continuing to operate the skating rink and teen center, but was not interested in taking on management of the larger complex.
Message said he has been in contact with Shaun Alexander, the former NFL running back who runs Lifeview Real Estate.
“We are hopeful that we will eventually be part of the team,” Message said. “[Alexander] said if the town awarded him the contract, he would then have further discussions with us to consider our role.”
With only two town council meetings left in 2017 and negotiations with the bidders ongoing, the town might have to call special meetings to finalize the deal before January.