|A decision by Newport Central Catholic High School to rescind their offer to upgrade the Southgate ball field in exchange for use as a home field, leaves the ballfield as it is.|
by Robin Gee, city council beat editor
Newport Central Catholic High School (NCC) officials quietly announced this week that they have rescinded their offer to upgrade the Southgate ballpark, located near the city’s Community Center, in exchange for making it the school’s home field.
In a letter to Southgate Mayor Jim Hamberg and city council, NCC officials thanked the city for considering a possible partnership with the school and for gathering input from the community.
In early November NCC school officials presented their plan to Southgate to add batting cages, bleachers, fencing and other amenities, along with baseball clinics and year-round maintenance in exchange for using the field as their home base where they would play home games.
The proposal was met with mixed reactions from Southgate residents. At a public hearing, several people expressed concern over traffic safety and parking issues on game nights, especially when activities were also taking place at the Community Center.
The mayor pulled the item from a city meeting agenda in late November to buy more time to explore the issue and reflect on feedback from the community. At the time, he also said the city might want to wait until an in-person meeting could be safely held for more public input.
In January, with spring approaching, city officials decided it was time to revisit the item so that both parties could prepare once a decision was made either way. The item was added to the February council meeting agenda, and NCC was invited to present again. It was at this point NCC officials sent the letter to the city withdrawing their offer.
Newport Central Catholic’s decision
After noting that school officials never intended to cause division or concern within council or the community as a whole, they thanked all for their careful consideration of their offer.
"In the best interest of all, we do not want to further that division among your council and residents by putting this to a vote. After much prayer and discernment, we feel it is best to respectfully rescind our proposal to lease the Reno J. Deaton Baseball Field at Southgate Community Center," school officials wrote.
"We thank you for your consideration, and we wish the best for the city of Southgate as you continue to improve your community and its park to meet the needs of all of your residents. We thank the numerous supporters of the proposal who have remained respectful to allow for due diligence and due process. Thanks to all for your reflection and consideration," they added.
It is not yet known if the high school is exploring other options for their home field.