Just two weeks after Shaun Alexander Enterprises told the Town of Purcellville that it wanted back into its contract to manage the Fireman’s Field complex, town staff is getting closer to striking a new deal with the firm.
Town Manager David Mekarski and Town Attorney Sally Hankins on Tuesday night briefed the Town Council on the status of their negotiations with the firm, which is led by former NFL running back Shaun Alexander, on a modified contract to manage operations in the town-owned Fireman’s Field complex. After managing the complex from Jan. 1 to mid-August, Alexander informed the town that he would terminate his contract on Sept. 1. Less than two weeks later, he told the town that he would resume operations at the 15.89-acre complex. Discussions on a modified contract between he and the town have been ongoing since Aug. 27.
Hankins told the Town Council that Alexander would continue to manage operations in the Bush Tabernacle, but would no longer be doing so at Fireman’s Field. She said that this would make room for negotiations with the county’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, which could take over maintenance of the athletic fields on a more short-term basis.
“There was a temporary stop in services and we are working to remedy everything that has occurred,” she said.
Hankins also mentioned that Alexander is looking for a subcontractor to handle day-to-day operations, which Play to Win had done for Alexander for the first seven months of the contract. In July, Play to Win, which also manages the Evergreen Sportsplex near Leesburg, informed Alexander that it would terminate its contract at the end of that month.
When the Town Council voted to award Alexander the management contract in November, his firm was responsible to pay the town $120,000 for rent in 2018, with annual payments going up by $10,000 each year. Hankins said that the current negotiations would yield an adjustment to that rate.
When Councilman Ted Greenly mentionedthat residents have asked him why Mekarski and Hankins, and not Town Council members, have been negotiating with Alexander, Mekarski emphasized that the process is managerial and that staff is bringing everything back to the council.
“We’re doing our best to administer the policy directives of the council,” he said. “We have absolutely no authority to approve the agreement.”
Carri Michon, a mother of six and an Upper Loudoun Little League board member, spoke during the meeting and urged the council to realize that Fireman’s Field belongs to the children of western Loudoun and not the town.
“These hallowed fields are now a stewardship of the Town of Purcellville, not an ownership for profit,” she said. “Please, please, please keep that in mind.”
Purcellville resident Brian Ducharme asked the council to consider looking at different firms to manage the tabernacle, noting that working with Alexander is “no longer the best option.” He said that his son formerly worked for the firm and that it was “mismanaged even at the smallest operational level.”
Ducharme said that while the town might be “enamored with the celebrity status [of Alexander],” it should “find the best option.”
“Let’s focus on our legacy and getting it put back together right,” he said.
Mayor Kwasi Fraser said that the town is focusing on three factors as it negotiates a deal with Alexander—finding the best economic and social value for residents, keeping the complex open and strengthening the contract.
The town staff is working to bring an updated contract with Alexander to the Town Council at its Sept. 25 meeting.