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South Boston debates C.H. Friend field ownership

Halifax County wants to convey ownership of the baseball field at the former C.H. Friend Elementary School to the Town of South Boston.

The town seems ready to accept that offer, if discussion at Monday night’s South Boston Council work session is any indication.

The county sold the C. H. Friend school building at auction several years ago but maintained ownership of the baseball field, which has been used for several years by the South Boston Dixie Majors Baseball League.

In a letter to South Boston Mayor Ed Owens, Halifax County Recreation Director Bill Shortt indicated the county wanted to deed the C. H. Friend Baseball Field to the Town of South Boston.

South Boston Parks and Recreation also uses the field for football practice, but the county’s recreation department does not, according to Shortt.

Shortt is asking Owens for assurances the town has no current plans to convert the field.

“At the last recreation advisory committee meeting, a couple of members expressed a concern that South Boston may have plans to use the field for other purposes,” Shortt said in his letter to Owens.

Would you be willing to write a letter stating that South Boston has no current plans to convert the area. Mr. Halasz (Halifax County Administrator Jim Halasz) and I believe a statement from you would alleviate any concerns.”

South Boston Town Manager Ted Daniel told council discussions had been held over a number of years between the county and town as to whether the town would take it back and get the title to the property.

“They’re offering that property to us at this time,” said Daniel, adding Parks and Recreation would be responsible for managing it.

“The county doesn’t have an active role in the property, they’re just owning it.  They don’t maintain it…we do use it,” Daniel added.

Councilman W. R. “Bill” Snead said his main concern is “we keep using it as recreation.”

Councilwoman Tina Wyatt-Younger asked if the town would be in a position to sell the field if the owner of the C.H. Friend building decided to sell the property.  

The fates of both the school building and ball field are intertwined, according to Daniel.

“The future of C. H. Friend is very important on what happens to that property,” Daniel explained. “We’ve had informal economic development discussions with the property owners, and those athletic activities could be relocated if necessary, and that property could be used for development of C. H. Friend if that comes down the road.”

“It would only be logical for the town to own the baseball field should those economic development opportunities surface down the road,” according to Councilman Coleman Speece. 

“There were real ambitious efforts to do something with that building,” added Speece. “We ought to own it (baseball field).”