Chattahoochee has a baseball field that sits largely unusued; Hurricane Michael left Sneads High School with a lack of playing fields.
But thanks to an agreement struck recently between Sneads High baseball coach Andy Shelton and the Chattahoochee City Council, the Sneads Pirates will have a home field this year: Chattahoochee’s historic Redbird (Terrell) Field.
At its January 2 meeting, the Chattahoochee City Council voted unanimously to allow the Sneads High baseball team to play their full schedule – February through April – at the municipal ballpark, located on the eastern end of the Florida State Hospital campus.
Council members expressed hope the use agreement – the details of which are to be worked out between the city’s attorney and the Jackson County School District – will help bring paying visitors to the economically challenged area.
“People will be eating in town,” Chattahoochee council member Amy Glass noted.
Mayor Christopher Moultry said he viewed the ballpark partnership as an excellent opportunity to strengthen the “twin city community.”
“It’s good for us to show openness with Sneads High School,” Moultry said. ”It will bring people to Chattahoochee, and besides, we have many kids that go to school there.”
Coach Shelton said he feels “fortunate” that he was provided the Chattahoochee option, as hurricane damage has left Sneads municipal parks unsafe for both fans and players.
Shelton noted that other area teams, including Blountstown and Altha, are looking for alternative places to play post-Michael, as well. With its close proximity and relationship with Chattahoochee, Sneads is lucky, he added.
“We are two communities, but we are drawn together with ACI and the hospital. The communities are interlocked,” Shelton said.
But when it came to allowing Chris Hutchinson and his privately-owned Big League XPRES Baseball organization the use of Redbird Field, the vote was more contentious.
“They asked for a five-year use agreement,” city manager Robert Presnell said. “But I thought two would be better.”
After much discussion, council members voted 4-1 to allow Hutchinson’s organization to use Redbird field. Council member Ann Williams cast the lone dissenting vote.
“I’m not at ease with this after looking at the contract,” she said.