City to lease park ball fields to baseball group

City attorney will prepare draft lease for review in March

The city of Medford will lease the city park ball diamonds to a private group rather than sell them.
After a lengthy discussion at Tuesday’s city council meeting, aldermen voted to direct city attorney Courtney Graff to prepare a lease agreement for the council to review by the March 13 committee of the whole meeting.
Last August, a group of local baseball enthusiasts led by Tom Mueller came to the city with a plan to reconfigure the existing softball diamonds at Jaycee Field to a regulation Little League diamond and an adult baseball diamond. The council gave the go-ahead for the volunteers to move fences and do the work needed to get the Little League field in place. Ownership of the fields was also raised, with the city pushing off a decision until the baseball group became more organized and got its 501c(3) nonprofit status.
Last week, representatives from Medford City Baseball, Inc. came to the council with news of their 501c(3) status and a request to move forward with discussion about the purchase or leasing of the ball diamonds. No action was taken at that meeting, with mayor Mike Wellner saying the city needed to meet with the attorney to weigh the pros and cons of leasing versus selling the property.
According to Graff, the biggest hurdle when it comes to the city either leasing or selling property to a private group is if it fits within the state’s public purpose doctrine. She noted that it is not the city’s responsibility to show that it does, but rather the group requesting the city give up control of the land.

See this week's issue of The Star News for the complete story.

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