A long, heated debate in Stuart Monday night ended with no outcome.
Stuart city leaders debated whether to allow a developer to build affordable housing units on the current Sailfish Park baseball fields.
The issue brought out more than 100 people, including many Little League baseball players, their families, and people who also grew up playing on the decades-old fields.
They hold sentimental and historical value to a lot of people.
“I am here to ask the commissioners not to take away our park. Sailfish Park is special, and there is nothing special about another complex or 200 cars driving around downtown,” said one Little League baseball player.
“Do not take away our happiness and joy. Do what’s right. Save Sailfish Park.”
“You’re going to tear it down to build what we call affordable housing? Affordable to who?” one Stuart resident said.
City leaders said one of the possible developers pitched a plan that would include apartment units at a cost less than $700 per month for a one bedroom.
The city currently spends about $80,000 on the park each year, paying for lawn maintenance and power.
Commissioners said they have to weigh the cost of maintaining the fields to the benefit to the entire city of continuing to pay for parks used more frequently by people who do not live within city limits.
There is a need in the city for more affordable housing.
Commissioners, after a five-hour discussion and public comment period, decided to table the decision for 90 days.
They considered using the money they would make from a developer to build two new fields at the 10th Street Guy Davis fields in East Stuart. They need upgrading and some city commissioners vowed to provide new fields in lieu of taking the Sailfish Park fields.
However, that would leave the players with two fields instead of the four they had before.
The funding source is also not guaranteed before the housing units would be built, which was a concern to commissioners who did not want any construction on the housing units until new fields were complete.