Purcellville Council Approves New Deal for Fireman’s Field Management

Following months contract negotiations, management of Purcellville’s Fireman’s Field Complex is taking on a different form.

The Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to amend the town’s contract with Shaun Alexander Enterprises in two parts—one that will remove the firm’s responsibility for maintenance of Fireman’s Field and another that will reduce its monthly rent payments from $10,000 to $4,000. Town Attorney Sally Hankins said that the changes will allow the county’s parks and recreation department resume maintenance of the field, if it agrees to do so. Alexander will continue to manage operations in the Bush Tabernacle. The rent reduction, at least in part, was in recognition that Alexander would not collect advertising revenue from the ballfield complex as it initially planned when entering the management deal last winter.

“The negotiations are going well—I think the relationship is in tact, I think that progress had been made in terms of having a very good working relationship where the goals of the town and the goals of our operator are aligned,” Hankins said. “I would like to preserve that progress and keep moving forward.”

The reduced rent rate will be in place for the remainder of 2018, with negotiations continuing for the remainder of Alexander’s contract, which expires in 2022.

The Town Council last year sought to privatize management of the facilities as part of a plan to generate more income from town-owned properties. Under the previous terms of the contract, Alexander was required to pay the town $120,000 in 2018, with annual payments increasing by $10,000 each year until 2022. Starting in the third year of the contract, Alexander was also required to pay the town 10 percent of the gross annual advertisement revenue generated on the property if it exceeded $150,000.

Hankins said that the new rent payment is in line with market rates. It’s also $1,400 more than was paid by the Purcellville Teen Center, which managed operations in the tabernacle from November 2015 until the end of last year, when the town terminated its contract nearly three years early.

Hankins said the new rate also aligns with what other contract bidders—Teen Center President Phil Message, Play to Win and Discover Purcellville—had suggested in their proposals to take over management of the tabernacle last month, following Alexander’s short-lived decision to back out of the contract.

Additional contract changes are expected to be discussed at the council’s Oct. 9 meeting. If the town can’t reach an agreement with Alexander by the second meeting in October, Hankins said that the Town Council could give some direction on how to proceed.

Councilman Ted Greenly said that the driving force behind the current negotiations is to ensure that the complex remains open for the community. “That’s really the goal here is to keep that facility open for the better of our community,” he said.

Alexander, the former NFL running back, took over management of the 15.89-acre Fireman’s Field complex on Jan. 1, replacing the teen center’s management of the tabernacle after more than a decade and the Loudoun County Parks, Recreation and Community Services’ management of the athletic fields after 33 years.

On Aug 17, Alexander told the town he would terminate the contract effective Sept. 1. Just a few days later, after the town notified him that the action was a breach of contract, Alexander rescinded the termination. The town has been negotiating with him ever since.

Pszabo@loudounnow.com

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