By Dustin Ensinger
Reynoldsburg City Council is considering an agreement that officials say would put Reynoldsburg’s baseball facilities to more use.
Reynoldsburg City Council voted 5-1 in favor of sending a resolution authorizing Mayor Brad McCloud to enter into an agreement with the Central Ohio Clippers Organization for the use of four of the city’s five baseball diamonds back to the finance committee, which will meet Feb. 3.
The move to send the legislation back to committee was at the request of Councilman Daniel Skinner, who was absent from the meeting. Skinner has concerns about the city’s liability in allowing an outside organization to utilize the fields.
Assistant City Attorney Matthew Roth said state law provides municipalities with immunity for governmental operations, which includes parks and recreation.
“Unless they are willful and wanton in how they treat kids, there is no liability for the city,” Roth said, adding the agreement requires the organization to carry a $1 million insurance policy.
Despite the assurances from legal counsel the agreement will not put the city in legal jeopardy, council moved to slow the process to give Skinner a chance to have his concerns addressed.
“I’m just really giving him respect as part of the team,” said Councilman Scott Barrett, who indicated he had no issues with the agreement.
Councilman Barth Cotner cast the lone dissenting vote.
“I spoke to the city attorney about his concerns. I spoke to the mayor about his concerns,” Cotner said. “There doesn’t seem to be any apprehensions from anyone involved in this contract outside of Mr. Skinner.”
The agreement has been in the works for about six months, according to Parks and Recreation Director Joe Brown. He said the agreement would allow the city to enhance its youth baseball program through the creation of a fall baseball league.
Under the agreement, the Central Ohio Clippers Organization will pay for improvements to the city’s baseball fields in exchange for their use.
The organization’s presence will also generate revenue to the city through the tournaments it holds, Brown said.
“There’s an economic development piece to that,” Brown said. “It’s a win-win.”
After the decision to send the issue back to committee, McCloud asked council to bring their concerns to administration officials so that the agreement can move forward.
“If everyone who has a concern with this would communicate those specifically, timely, so we can address these,” McCloud said. “It’s been around for a while.”
Councilman Mel Clemens said the legislation before the council has not been around for a while.
“I can understand why he wants to hold it,” Clemens said of Skinner.
“I can’t,” McCloud shot back.
The Central Ohio Clippers Organization, founded in 2009, is associated with the Columbus Clippers, the Cleveland Indians top minor league club.