Sussex County Council Approves $1.5 Million Loan for Sports Comp - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Sussex County Council Approves $1.5 Million Loan for Sports Complex

Posted: Feb 20, 2018 4:30 PM Updated:

SUSSEX COUNTY, Del.- On Tuesday, the Sussex County Council voted 3-2 to award a $1.5 million loan to the Sussex Sports Center Foundation. The loan paves the way for a new sports complex to be built on 56 acres off Sand Hill Road in Georgetown.

"This is the final step with the county but first step of many," Sussex Sports Center Foundation Vice President Bobby Horsey told WBOC. "Now we have to go start securing some private funding sources to raise our million and a half."

The foundation must use $1.5 million of their own funds before receiving any county money, according to the loan agreement. County Administrator Todd Lawson said the county will have a lien on the property and the option to take it over in ten years. Additionally, two people representing Sussex County will be on the foundation's board. The foundation will not be required to make any payments on the county loan for the first ten years. 

The council voted to enter the loan agreement after entering a Memorandum of Understanding last month and nearly an hour of heated debate on Tuesday. Councilman Rob Arlett said he supported the idea but felt the process wasn't open enough to the public.

"I haven't even fully vetted it myself personally. We just got it Saturday," he said. "So for that reason I'm going to have to vote no."

The other opposing vote was Sam Wilson, who also felt the public wasn't involved enough. He questioned if the project was worth the money. 

"Why are we in such a rush to spend a million and a half dollars of taxpayers money?" he asked his council members. 

But I.G. Burton, Michael Vincent and George Cole outweighed the two with yes votes, saying the project was a good public-private partnership and created potential economic development. Vincent said the project could pave the way for future parks and recreation activities by the county.

A big supporter of the complex is Georgetown Mayor Bill West. The town council voted 5-0 to provide ten years of support in myriad ways from police protection and water to letting the complex use a pump station that currently exists on the property. After the vote, West expressed his excitement to WBOC, saying the project will bring people into town for meals and lodging, if they're part of a visiting team. 

"They come here, they have to have a place to stay. They have to have food. They have to have gas," he said. "That has an impact not only on Georgetown but to put 700 people in this community means its going to affect the whole county."

The sports complex will contain eight fields, a 3.1 mile trail and three pickelball courts. Horsey says they plan to open it in Spring 2019.

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