Portion of Elm Park in city eyed for possible sale

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Elm Park, which is across from Bowman Field, is seen on Friday. An 8-acre section of the park is being eyed for appraisal and possible sale, according to Mayor Gabriel J. Campana.

An 8-acre section of Elm Park along West Fourth Street containing three softball fields is being eyed for sale to a private developer for recreational and tax-generation purposes, according to Mayor Gabriel J. Campana.

The city owns the parcels, and the next step is to get an independent appraisal done before putting the property out for bid, he said.

“It is prime land and the Elm Park Softball Boosters Association has disbanded, so it is a golden opportunity to help bring in city tax revenue and permit fees from construction,” he said.

If it is sold, the city gets the money for the land purchase and permit fees for any construction done, he said.

Construction jobs also are a part of the consideration, he said.

The proposed sale of part of the park is expected to go first before City Council’s economic revitalization committee, he said.

City finance director William E. Nichols Jr. didn’t comment directly about the project but said he continues to prepare a financial plan for the city to bring about a positive budget.

City Councilman Randall J. Allison, chairman of the committee and council’s vice president, said there was an appraisal that council is waiting on the administration to schedule and complete.

“There hasn’t been anything I would categorize as a briefing because council has been deeply involved through its public works committee and leadership is in discussions about the future of Elm Park,” Allison said.

“We all knew the former lease on the complex was ending and it has been a cooperative effort to chart the course for that area that is actually part of Memorial Park,” he said.

Any revenue received would be dependent upon an independent appraisal and any negotiations regarding use and development of the site, Allison said.

The sale would not impact the Lifland Skate Park nor Original Field, the latter of which is the first place Little League Baseball was played.

These facilities are on the west side of the dike.

The softball boosters association had renewed a one-year lease with the city at the city-owned facilities.

Since 1945, members have overseen softball league play at the park, across West Fourth Street from where the Williamsport Crosscutters play minor league baseball at BB&T Park at Bowman Field.

Pennsylvania College of Technology had softball teams playing on the fields but said recently in correspondence with the newspaper that the school had nothing to do with any negotiations the city administration is considering.