By Bill Short
Board members took the action Monday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Thomas McGhee and seconded by Alderman Jon Crisp.
Millington owns a combination of eight parcels totaling approximately 124 acres at 8 Babe Howard Ave., that are known as the USA Stadium Complex.
At an April 29 special called meeting, the board voted unanimously to declare the stadium “surplus property,” so it can be sold or leased.
The city advertised for bids on the property that would include the intended use and proposed lease or purchase terms.
The sole bid received was submitted by WBM LLC, which is doing business as Watazumi Beach Millington.
WBM has proposed a 10-year lease that includes its right to purchase the property at a specified price at any time during the life of the lease.
The company plans to create a “multi-dimensional family entertainment venue” on the property. It will include swimming areas, water slides, lazy rivers, ziplines and ropes courses, as well as hosting events such as the Flag City Freedom Celebration and the International Goat Days Festival.
WBM will allow all scheduled baseball games to be played this year at the stadium. It will also honor all other events already contracted in 2019, unless they interfere with the company’s immediate construction plans.
Millington has always viewed the USA Stadium Complex as a method of bringing visitors to the city to use its hotels, restaurants and other stores.
But it operates the stadium along with other activities that annually cost a total of approximately $150,000 more than related revenues collected.
The board has determined that the property is in need of “significant renovations and/or maintenance” that would “place a further burden” on the city’s resources.
So, it decided to reduce the “taxpayer burden” by encouraging private owners to further develop the property as a “recreational area.”
In a related action, the board unanimously passed an ordinance on final reading that creates an Entertainment Recreation zoning district for the planned construction of a water park.
The ordinance was unanimously passed on first reading at the April 29 special meeting after it was recommended by the Millington Municipal Planning Commission.
Charles Goforth, planning consultant for the city, told the commission at its April 15 meeting that Millington had been approached by a company that wants to build a water park here, and it was “looking at various sites.” But he noted that the city did not have a zoning district designated for that use.