Cullman City Council votes to surplus athletic field by Nesmith Park for city school system use

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The Cullman City Council voted to surplus the athletic field north of West Elementary School and make it available to the Cullman City Board of Education for possible future expansion of the school. (Image courtesy of Google Maps)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman City Council in a special called meeting Monday voted to surplus three small tracts of land which make up the football/soccer field north of West Elementary School and adjoining Nesmith Park and convey the properties to the Cullman City Board of Education, enabling the city to apply for a federally-funded grant to renovate the park while preserving the field for future use by the school system.

Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs told The Tribune the City applied for a Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grant to renovate Nesmith Park, including the installation of a new water feature to replace the old pool. When the City made the application, though, LWCF called for the athletic field adjacent to the park to be included in the property, since it and the park are parts of the same City-owned parcel (parcel number 1705162001031000).

Said Jacobs, “We applied for a new land and water grant, and they wanted us to include what I call the football field in the property, which means you can never use that property again; you’re tying it up forever. There’s ways to not do it, but it pretty much ties it up. Well, we didn’t want to do that because the school- some of their expansion plans, they might need that piece of property there.”

Ordinance 2020-01 to surplus the property received its first reading at the special called meeting, but was passed after a suspension of the regular procedural rules, to avoid delays in the LWCF grant application process.

The transfer of the property still has to be approved by the Cullman City School Board. Jacobs stated the property will remain an athletic field for the foreseeable future, with no changes to its regular uses.

On its website, the LWCF Coalition says of its grant program:

Administered by the National Park Service, the LWCF State and Local Assistance Program provides matching grants to state, local and tribal governments to create and expand parks, develop recreation facilities, and further local recreation plans.  Each year, funds are distributed to every U.S. state and territory using a population-based formula.  Ranging from active recreation facilities to natural areas, these funds are a vitally important tool to renovate existing sites, develop new facilities, acquire land for state and local parks and promote statewide recreation planning.  Over 42,000 grants totaling over $4 billion have supported protection of three million acres of recreation lands and over 29,000 recreation facility projects, driven by local priorities and matched with local dollars, to provide close-to-home recreation opportunities that are readily accessible to all Americans.

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com