Brownsburg council rejects athletics complex proposal, eyes new location

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (WISH) — A hotly contested proposal to build an athletics complex in Brownsburg was turned down Thursday night … at least for now.

The Town Council is looking at a new location, one that technically has an Indianapolis mailing address. That’s part of the reason Brownsburg Little League officials are less than enthusiastic.

On the agenda Thursday night was a bond vote to fund the first phase of a $15.5 million sports complex on the north side of town; News 8 has been reporting on the proposal for weeks. Funding was to come from economic development taxes, which perhaps was the most controversial piece for opponents who believed that project was not the best use of those funds.

The council decided to turn its immediate attention to another facility, the vacant Hoosier Athletic Center on U.S. 136, almost directly across the street from the Lucas Oil Raceway. It’s been for sale and sat empty for a couple of years.

Little League Baseball President Travis Smith said the organization thought about buying Hoosier Athletic a few years ago, but the price was too high.

The council voted to remove the north-side complex from its agenda for up to two months while exploring the Hoosier Athletic Center.

Smith said it’s frustrating that a concept that was approved by the council in December could fall so quickly out of favor with a few new faces on the council.

“To have a turn in three months’ time that drastically is pretty shocking to us. We thought the bond issue another small step to our dream home,” he said. “The focus seems to on baseball and softball. Again, it’s really not what this is about. It’s about a community resource for the families on the north side of Brownsburg to enjoy, a playground, walking trails and eventually athletic fields.”

Meanwhile, Travis Tranbarger, the director of Brownsburg Parks Department, said the delay will allow the gathering of more community feedback to find the right solution.

“I wouldn’t say that I’m frustrated. I would say that I’m encouraged that the project hasn’t been killed. It’s not dead. I think we can go back to the drawing board in a way and try to make something work,” Tranbarger said.

The current owner of the farmland north of town is the school board, which had agreed to sell it to the town. Now, it’s up to the school to decide what it wants to do next; its next meeting is set for Monday night.

The results of an appraisal of the Hoosier Athletic Center are due back in two weeks.