Tooele County has tentatively entered into two agreements to keep the athletic fields at Deseret Peak Complex open for the 2013 season.
With Tooele High School already using the baseball fields, and softball leagues scheduled to start next month, Tooele County Commissioner Shawn Milne said it was imperative the county find someone to manage the fields to keep them open through the end of the year.
“We always intended to keep the fields open and let the public use them,” he said. “What has changed is the services provided by the county to the groups that use the fields.”
Casey Walker, coaching director for TC United, a non-profit organization that provides recreational soccer to local youth, will manage the soccer fields at Deseret Peak.
Troy Johansen, a prominent figure in Grantsville softball, will manage the baseball and softball fields.
“We are still finalizing the terms,” said Milne. “But we had to get somebody on board as soon as possible to get things open for this season.”
Walker and Johansen were likely candidates for the job because their organizations are the biggest user of the fields, according to the commissioner.
Johansen and Walker will be responsible for scheduling the fields, plus all maintenance including watering, mowing, concession operations and paying for the lights.
The county is looking at the contracts with Walker and Johansen as lease agreements with a base rental fee along with a percentage of concession sales to the county, said Milne.
The agreements with Walker and Johansen are an example of the commissioner’s vision for the future operation of other venues at Deseret Peak Complex
Following the layoff of all parks and recreation department employees two weeks ago, the commissioners gave parks and recreation Director Mark McKendrick 30 days to develop a plan for operating the county parks and recreation facilities, including Deseret Peak, at a minimal cost to the county.
“Mark is still looking at possibilities,” said Milne. “He’s the one that contacted Walker and Johansen about taking over the fields for this year.”
After this season is over, the commissioner expects that the county will ask for formal requests for proposals to operate the fields for next year.
“We may enter into a longer agreement,” he said. “We just don’t know many details at this time. We still have things to work out.”
Walker and Johansen have been asked to make the fields available to the public, not just their own leagues, added the commissioner.
To avoid any conflicts, Milne has asked Walker and Johansen to provide the county with a copy of the schedule for the fields.
Walker and Johansen will determine the fee they will charge for groups to use the fields, but those have not yet been set because the county is working on how much it will charge for the lease agreement, Milne said.
The commissioner will also ask the two contractors to open their financial books for the county to inspect at the end of the season.
“We expect them to make some money,” said Milne. “But we need to know that the fees set were appropriate and that the fees were consistently applied.”
“I’ve been told to run the fields as if they were mine,” said Johansen. “It is a risk for my family, but my hope is to break even. I’ve got a lot of family and friends that have volunteered to help out.”