Big League Dreams Dominates First Town Hall Meeting

Sports complex will be the 'best thing to happen to our city in 100 years,' Mayor Crist said.


At Mayor Johnny Crist's inaugural monthly town hall meeting Monday night, Big League Dreams -- or rather the mega sports complex it would operate -- was the topic de jour.

The sports complex planned for the corner of Indian Trail-Lilburn Road and Lawrenceville Highway could be in operation by the summer of 2013, Crist said, and would attract thousands of people each weekend to Lilburn, along with restaurants, hotels and other businesses.

The complex would be used for travel ball, which refers to baseball and softball teams that travel to various tournaments. Studies show that people who take part in that sport spend on average $86 a day in the city where the tournament is played, Crist said.

Lilburn doesn't have the restaurants and other amenities that Norcross and other Gwinnett cities have because the clientele is "at a lower economic rate," Crist said. "We said we've got to change that. We've got to think strategically about how to lift" the city up again.

The 38 acres is the site of a former county waste treatment facility, and Gwinnett county commissioners last week for about $1.31 million, its appraised value. The plan is to sell the lot to a private developer who is in talks with Big League Dreams. The city will recoup the costs and won't carry the risks of the project, Crist said. It also won't share whatever profit that may result for Big League Dreams, but it will get indirect income from taxes and licensing fees.

"We've found a very good-looking girl," the land, and "a handsome guy," the developer, Crist said. "The suitor said, 'I'll build it.'"

Addressing residents concern about noise and light pollution, Doug Stacks, director of planning and economic development, pointed out that the complex will have high, solid walls and a barrier of trees. The traffic, Crist said, would be staggered.

Some hotels are already putting out feelers, Crist said.

"Somebody has to do something, or we're making a vote to continue to go downhill," Crist said. The sports complex is "the best thing to happen to our city in 100 years."

Other issues discussed Monday night:

- The Service Delivery Strategy agreement with Gwinnett County: County police won't be coming into the city at all; security for Bryson Park, for example, and monitoring precious metal sales at pawn shops will fall to the city. The agreement should result in lower taxes, City Manager Bill Johnsa said.

- Code enforcement: The mayor plans to form a code enforcement board and hire contract employees who can work nights and weekends on code enforcement.

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While some residents expressed concern about the noise, traffic, lighting and other things, Crist


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