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Gainesville school system may gain ownership of Bobby Gruhn Field
City will continue to lease Ivy Watson Field
The Gainesville City Council may transfer Bobby Gruhn Field at City Park where the Gainesville High Red Elephants have played for decades to the Gainesville School Board.

The home of the Red Elephants, Bobby Gruhn Field, may become the property of Gainesville City Schools.

The property is leased to the school system by Gainesville Parks and Recreation, and the two entities share use.

Gainesville Parks and Recreation Director Melvin Cooper laid out the details of the arrangement to City Council members at a work session Thursday.

The City Council will decide at Tuesday's meeting whether the school system will assume ownership.

When the lease on Bobby Gruhn expired June 30, the school board and city began discussing how to handle fields and facilities under the new agreement.

"Instead of duplicating fields and facilities for use, we share them," Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said. "There's a dollar figure for rental space. We try to get as equal as we can."

For the past eight years, Dyer said the school board has used Bobby Gruhn Field and Ivy Watson Field — the football and baseball fields for Gainesville High School — more than the city.

Gainesville Parks and Recreation will transfer ownership of Bobby Gruhn Field to the school board. The city will continue to lease Ivy Watson Field for baseball practices, Cooper said.

"We've had a very long-standing and very beneficial partnership with the Gainesville City school system for joint use of facilities," Cooper said.

Dyer said "it just made sense" for the school board to own Bobby Gruhn.

"We mutually decided not to take over Ivy Watson," she said. "We will revisit this next June and continue to pay the lease fee on it."

Ivy Watson is attached to other facilities owned by the city, making it difficult to divide and conquer which entity will pay which costs. It was not something the board felt ready to handle, Dyer said.

Having Bobby Gruhn Field deeded to the school board means state funds can be generated as the field is used for classes, Cooper said.

"It's a win-win for them in that they can generate revenue by owning that facility as opposed to it being a lease agreement with us," he said.

Dyer said physical education and Fit Zone grants programs will be held on the field in addition to football, soccer and lacrosse.

"They'll still use it for youth football and events like opening day for Little League," Dyer said. "We decided to delay covering utilities, insurance and bidding out maintenance this fiscal year (on Bobby Gruhn Field).

We're going to pay a fee to Parks & Recreation to do it for us, just for the one year."

Dyer estimates the school board will save close to $13,000 owning Bobby Gruhn, even with the fee it's paying the city to cover some costs this year.

"This will give us a field all our schools can use," she said. "It's like buying the house versus renting an apartment."

Under the intergovernmental agreement, the school board and recreation board share use of certain parks and school properties. The school uses Lanier Point Athletic Complex, Longwood Tennis Center, Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center and park pavilions for sports practices and field trips.

In turn, the parks and recreation board uses school campuses for theater, sports and day camp programs, Cooper said.