After closed-door discussion, Smithfield commits $1 million to Luter Sports Complex expansion
Published 6:02 p.m. Thursday 20 October 2022
Smithfield City Council has approved up to $1 million for the expansion and modernization of the Joseph W. Luter Sports Complex on West Main Street.
The vote followed a closed session to discuss “treaty negotiations” on October 5.
According to Mayor Carter Williams, the work will include adding three to four new baseball or softball fields, as well as additional bathrooms and concession stands.
The $4 million sports park opened in 2018. It already has a concession stand and restrooms central to an existing baseball field and three softball fields, but the building is 750 feet from the park’s soccer field. The new concession stands and restrooms would be closer to the football field and would serve the new baseball and softball fields, Williams said.
The $4 million park, named for the father of former Smithfield Foods chairman Joseph W. Luter III, opened in 2018. Donations from Luter III and Farmers Bank combined with Isle of Wight County and City taxpayer money funded its construction.
According to Williams, the city received a new $3 million “private donation” to fund the upgrades, but the offer is contingent on the city providing $1 million in taxpayer money.
The council voted to accept the offer and proceed with the upgrades after a closed session on Oct. 5 to discuss “contract negotiations.”
That evening, following the same closed session, the council also voted to allocate up to $1.4 million to relocate the Smithfield Farmers Market to Luter III’s proposed Grange at 10Main project at Route 10 and Main Street. Luter has offered land and a $1 million contribution to build a permanent home for the market, on condition that the city and county jointly raise an additional $2.7 million.
Assistant District Administrator Don Robertson said he was not aware of any similar cost-sharing proposal being submitted to the district for the proposed Luter Sports Complex upgrades. The sports park is a municipal facility.
Williams declined to say if Luter III was also the private donor who offered the $3 million for the Luter Sports Complex upgrades.
Even with the vote on file, there will still be “a long way to go” before construction begins on the new fields, concession stands or bathrooms, Williams said. The next step, he said, is for the city to hire an engineering firm.
“That’s what we’re looking for right now,” Williams said.
Earlier this year, the council voted to allocate a portion of its remaining $3.4 million in COVID-19 aid received through the Federal American Rescue Plan Act to installing lights on the park’s soccer field to provide. The lights are now in place.