MILTON, Ga. — While land preservation has been a focus for Milton and its Greenspace Bond funds the last two years, the city turned its attention to active parks Oct. 7 by entering a contract to purchase the United Sports Complex facility on Cox Road. The $1.5 million purchase could double the city’s cache of multi-purpose fields.
Milton is now in a due diligence period and plans to close on the property early next year, said Parks and Recreation Director Jim Cregge.
Around two-thirds of the funding for the purchase will come from the city’s impact fees dedicated to parks and trails improvement. The parks and trail improvement capital fund will be used for the remaining balance. The city is also saving costs after its parks agreements with Alpharetta was dissolved last year. In 2018, Milton paid Alpharetta over $450,000 in fees to allow residents to participate in Alpharetta programming without incurring out-of-city fees.
The complex includes two grass fields and a half-size artificial turf field. While speaking to the City Council Oct. 7, Cregge said the fields are in excellent condition, and the turf was installed by the same company that laid the turf on Bell Memorial Park’s fields. He said the turf still has around six years remaining on its transferrable warranty.
The complex is also fully lighted with on-site bathrooms, which could alleviate some issues for the city and local youth sports providers.
The fields at Bell Memorial are the only multi-purpose grounds the city owns and operates, but Milton does have agreements to use fields at several schools in the area. Milton youth sports providers have access to the three grass fields at Northwestern Middle School, and fields at Hopewell Middle School, Cogburn Woods Elementary School and Birmingham Falls Elementary School. However, none of the fields are lighted and only Northwestern Middle has bathrooms. The city provides portable bathrooms at the two elementary schools.
The potential purchase will likely be heralded by sports providers, particularly lacrosse. Milton has become a hotbed for youth lacrosse over the past decade, but organizers have been contending with a growing base and limited field space.
Earlier this year, Milton passed its long-term parks plan which highlighted the need for more active park spaces. Residents have also listed youth sports programming as a “high priority” when polled.
Cregge said the 2027 master plan “specifically encouraged us to seek opportunities such as this.”
“The plan also indicates that as of 2017 we were short of two, multi-purpose fields, and we will need two more by 2027,” he said.
The United Sports Complex has been run by United Futbol Academy since 2015. Cregge said United will no longer operate out of the facility. Milton does not have a youth soccer program and there are no plans to create a program at this point, he said.
Because of its prior use as a sports facility, Cregge said the complex will not disturb any in the surrounding area. The complex is flanked by a cemetery and Porter Academy.
The City Council voted unanimously, with councilmember Rick Mohrig absent, to enter the contractual period to acquire the site.
“This, for me, is a win-win,” said Mayor Joe Lockwood. “This is a piece of property for sale, but also already has a lot of improvements that we definitely have a need for in the city of Milton.”
Councilmember Matt Kunz said the purchase could relieve pressure on the city’s other facilities without the need to cut down trees.
Councilmembers Laura Bentley and Carol Cookerly credited the purchase to the city adopting its historical millage rate after reducing the rate in 2018.
“We had to make a tough decision to raise the millage rate, but we knew this day was coming that would allow the city to make a purchase for needed fields,” Bentley said.