Brownsburg Council tables sports complex proposal in favor of public forum

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (WISH) — After more than an hour, a key vote to bring a brand new sports complex to Brownsburg was delayed by the town council.

The facility is a $15.5 million proposal on a little more than 100 acres north of town.

Proponents said it’s an important part of being an attractive community and it won’t raise property taxes, but a vocal group of people including some parents are against it, mostly worried about the financials.

Arbuckle Acres Park in downtown Brownsburg has been the site of the town’s powerhouse baseball program for more than 60 years.

“My dad played on them. I played on them. My kids play on them,” said Travis Smith, the current president of the Little League.

Smith said that’s part of the problem.

He is in favor of a proposal to bring a new 106-acre complex north of town, which would include 12 ballfields.

“We’re really excited about it,” Smith said. “Our current situation, we’ve outgrown it. We have over 600 kids registered this year and we had to turn kids away.”

The proposal would use revenue from the economic development income tax to raise the bond money.

“It is a wise use of our funds,” said Town Manager Jeff Eder.

Eder said it requires no property tax increase.

While baseball and softball is the focus of the first phase, future phases include a playground, walking paths and other sporting fields.

Eder said this type of amenity is something families want as well as prospective new businesses.

“We think it’s a great quality of life addition to the Brownsburg to go with our outstanding school district to support the kids coming up there and give them the recreation side,” Eder said.

While more than a dozen people spoke Thursday night in favor of the proposal including a number of Little League parents, a trio of residents rose in opposition, including Jeff Humphreys.

For them, the money is the biggest concern.

“I would like to see this for the town, too. Who would not want something great for our community and our children, my children too? The plan’s got to work. We have to be fiscally solvent or we run the risk being like Anderson,” Humphreys said. “I just want everybody to look at the numbers, not just make an emotional decision based on what’s best for the kids, there’s no doubt it’s great for the kids. Let’s just do something what works for the whole town.”

More money will be needed for future phases, though the Little Leagues have promised to raise $10 million over 20 years to help pay for construction.

While some may see it as a rival to Westfield’s Grand Park, Westfield Mayor Andy Cook sees otherwise.

“I’m all for it. Brownsburg, Avon, Plainfield, go for it,” said Cook. “If there’s something that this state can really build on due to our culture, our location in the middle of the country, I welcome additional sports facilities in Indiana, because there’s room.”

Discussion wrapped up well after 10 p.m. Thursday

In the end, the council tabled the proposal until March 25 so they can have a public forum next week.