The Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors has voted unanimously to renew the Rappahannock Athletic Association’s (RAA) lease of Stuart Field in Amissville.
The vote in favor of a five-year extension of the lease was recorded at a special meeting of the BOS originally convened to consider applications for a permanent county administrator. That position has been vacant since Debbie Keyser resigned in July. Brenda Garton, the interim administrator, is leading the search for a candidate to fill the position.
Garton added the lease consideration to the agenda when it was learned that a decision had to be made on the lease by September 30. The next supervisors meeting, scheduled for Oct. 2, would have been too late for a vote.
The county leased Stuart Field to the RAA in 2008 for 10 years with options to renew for two five-year extensions. The facility is used by Rappahannock and Culpeper youth for baseball games.
More than two dozen people — mostly RAA supporters — attended the meeting, which appeared to surprise the supervisors. The Visitor’s Center building, which is undergoing renovations, could not hold a crowd of that size, so the meeting was conducted outside on the lawn.
A Facebook posting last week by Amissville resident Page Glennie suggested the intent of the county supervisors was to get rid of the Stuart ball fields.
Additional rumors over the last week mentioned the possibility of the RAAC Community Theatre taking over what is known as the Ruritan building at Stuart Field. RAAC, which holds its performances in the more centrally located county seat of Washington, denies it was ever interested in taking over the building.
Commenters on the county’s email listserv, RappNet, Facebook and a Culpeper newspaper story pointed fingers at Amissville resident Ron Makela, chair of the of the Rappahannock County Recreation Facilities Authority. The RCRFA manages the recreation center across Route 211 from the Town of Washington.
Hours after the BOS vote to renew the lease on Stuart Field, Makela resigned from RCRFA. His letter resignation submitted to Garton read in part:
“The County has owned the ‘Stuart Field’ property for 10 years and has done nothing to take advantage of the benefit that could be derived from the old Ruritan building as a community gathering space for all the citizens of the County.
“This was a project I felt the RCRFA could take on, and at no expense to the taxpayers, finish the work that needs to be done and make it available for use by non profits, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4H, Commit to be Fit and through user fees to private individuals and groups.
“As a result of the vote taken on Friday, September 21 by the BOS, that opportunity is lost. I consider the vote to be a ‘no confidence’ vote in regards to the RCRFA and my leadership abilities and therefore tender my resignation effective immediately.
“I will continue my volunteer work with the many other county organizations I enjoy working with throughout the year.”