The city of Sarasota and the Baltimore Orioles are arguing over funds earmarked for a landfill cleanup at Ed Smith Stadium and what they can be used for.
The city and Sarasota County entered into several interlocal agreements in 2009 and 2010 when the $30 million spring training complex was approved two years ago. The parties outlined the transfer of Ed Smith Stadium to the county under a number of conditions and included an agreement that $1 million the county owed the city would be placed in an environmental reserve account to be used to clean up the remains of an old landfill that sits under the stadium.
The money, according to the agreement, is to be used to pump out contaminated water approximately 27-feet below the stadium.
The city was making plans to pump and treat the water as early as December.
Baltimore Orioles representatives, however, have sent e-mails to city staff this week explaining they believe the money should be used to fund a storm water improvement project that would allow them to tear up the stadium’s fields and build new ones.
Baltimore Orioles attorney Alan Rifkin sent an e-mail to City Manager Bob Bartolotta Nov. 9, explaining that they believe fields on the complex don’t drain properly because of the landfill and the money should be used to fund a capital improvement project to improve drainage and make the fields more playable after a storm. It would cost approximately $420,000 for the project.
Bartolotta, meanwhile, in an e-mail he sent to commissioners Nov. 8, said the city “strongly objects” to the use of the funds for that purpose.
The Orioles are asking for a meeting with city staff next Tuesday to discuss the issue because they want the project to be done by the end of the year.
For more information on the dispute and ongoing discussions between the parties, pick up a copy of Thursday’s Nov. 17 Sarasota Observer.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].