Youth softball complex fails to secure funding in City Council vote

Tabitha Fleming
Staff Writer

The future of a proposed softball complex is still unknown after council failed to approve the financial resources needed for its construction at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. Two proposed resolutions, were the topic of much discussion at the meeting and the work session prior. Both resolutions concerned the issuance of certificates of obligation, or in simpler terms, loans.
A talked about and as of yet unfunded Multi-Purpose Event Center was the funding project for Resolution R-019-15 which would allow the transfer of $750,000 to the event center account at the Amarillo Area Foundation. The resolution passed with opposition from council member Odis McClellan who expressed concern over the current economic state and pointed to the importance of the oil and gas industry for Borger’s economy as well as the currently low crude prices.
Currently there is no softball specific complex within the city of Borger, which like many towns in the Texas panhandle places a great deal of importance on the participation in, and the support of youth sports. It is with the youth in mind that a new softball 4-plex park was proposed. The resolution before council would have allowed the issuance of $6.5 million in certificates of obligation to pay for the park.
City Manager Eddie Edwards explained to council that the debt payments the city makes wouldn’t be increased a great deal, but that the length of time that the city would continue to make payments would increase. In other words, the city would remain in debt for longer.
Mayor Robert Vinyard spoke in favor of the complex, and all council members expressed their desire to provide the youth with top notch facilities. Council member Charles Gillingham pointed out that the complex could lead to additional revenue for the city in the form of tourist dollars during tournaments or other events at the complex.
Again McClellan dissented, with the argument that the current economic state was simply not strong enough to support such a project. In McClellan’s opinion, an increase in tourist dollars was not enough to offset the damage to the local economy during a downturn in the oil market.
Local resident, Josh Brown, addressed council briefly after by Mayor Vinyard. “What I would like to know,” said Brown, who has a degree in public administration, “is how each of you feels about letting the people decide.” Unfortunately, as Mayor Vinyard told the crowd, because that question or issue was not part of the original meeting agenda, there would be no such discussion. Councilmembers were restricted to voting either for or against the measure.
When all was said and done, the resolution providing $6.5 million for the Softball complex failed to pass with a split vote where Vinyard and Gillingham were the only supporters.