By: Bill Callen—
RACER Trust and Ross Community Center, Inc. have come to terms on the sale of approximately six acres of the former GM Manual Transmissions of Muncie property off West 8th Street on the Southside of Muncie.
The land that was former employee parking, will be converted to baseball fields and other recreational facilities for youth, families and the community at large. Design of the new facilities is expected to begin in January 2016 with phase 1 construction beginning mid-year 2016.
“We are very pleased to help fulfill the Ross Community Center’s desire to provide additional recreational opportunities for the Southside and surrounding neighborhoods, and about the potential for this project to spur additional investment and economic development for the community,” said Elliott P. Laws, of EPLET, LLC, Administrative Trustee of RACER Trust. “Our mission at RACER is to maximize the redevelopment potential of our properties and serve as a catalyst for community-supported growth. The benefits of a community resource such as this are evident.”
The parking areas are south of West 8th Street, bordered by South Elliott Street to the east and South Sampson Avenue to the west, and abut current Ross Community Center recreational areas.
The remainder of the former Manual Transmissions of Muncie property, approximately 60 acres on the north side of West 8th Street, remains available for purchase and redevelopment.
“It is clear that communities with abundant recreational resources are communities that thrive and grow,” said Megan Quirk, President of Ross Community Center, Inc. “We’re extremely excited to make such positive contributions to the quality of life in Muncie, continuing to build and grow a strong, consistent organization at the Ross Community Center, and look forward to providing individuals, families, and children of our community with a beautiful space to gather, play, and enjoy life. We are working together to build a stronger Muncie.”
“Team sports are vital to the successful growth of our youth,” said Jud Fisher, President of the Ball Brothers Foundation, which has committed funding to efforts across the Muncie community that empower youth and support neighborhood development. “Without question, team athletics foster fair play and a competitive spirit. But, the real end game in team sports is recognized in the higher grades, educational attainment, self-esteem, healthy peer-to-peer relationships, family attachment and risky behavior avoidance of the athletes. The loss of Muncie Transmission has been profound, especially in and around the Thomas Park/Avondale neighborhood. We see a great collaborative opportunity at the Ross Community Center, based on a longstanding youth baseball program.”
The Ball Brothers Foundation of Muncie in the fall 2015 grant cycle committed for two years a total of $145,000 to support the business and employee operations of the Ross Community Center. Since 2011, the Foundation has granted over $640,000 to the Ross Community Center to support existing baseball programs and to build-out a new baseball facility.
“I congratulate and thank the leadership of the Ross Community Center and RACER Trust for their collaboration on behalf of the residents of Muncie,” Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler said. “Megan Quirk and other Ross Community Center leaders believe, and I agree, that new recreational facilities along West 8th Street will be a great starting point for the rejuvenation of the Thomas Park/Avondale neighborhood, the Southside and the City of Muncie. These are more than ball fields. New facilities like this are a signal to all that Muncie is a place that welcomes and serves families and individuals with a great quality of life. I’m confident this will encourage reinvestment and new activity for the Southside and Downtown areas of Muncie.”
“Acquisition of the former Muncie Transmission parking lots is just a first step in the building of our field of dreams,” Ms. Quirk added. “The Ross Community Center’s goal, aside from strengthening our day-to-day neighborhood community center programs, is to build a nationally recognized premier youth 12 and under tournament baseball facility. The cooperation of RACER Trust, the City of Muncie and the seed funding from the Ball Brothers Foundation is a solid beginning to a larger community collaborative effort required to build and operate legacy home run fields for generations to come. The Ross Community Center and the surrounding neighborhoods are grateful to begin so strong with cooperative partners.”
About RACER Trust: The RACER (Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response) Trust was created to clean up and position for redevelopment properties and other facilities owned by the former General Motors Corp. before its 2009 bankruptcy. RACER is one of the largest holders of industrial property in the United States and is the largest environmental response and remediation trust in U.S. history. When the Trust was formed, it owned properties at 89 locations in 14 states, principally in the Midwest and Northeast. The Trust, which is independent, was created by a settlement agreement in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court between the U.S. Government, the 14 states where the former GM properties are located, and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, which owns land adjoining Trust property in Massena, NY. For more information, please visit www.racertrust.org.
About Ross Community Center, Inc.: The mission of the Ross Community Center, Inc. is to build community and lessen neighborhood tensions by providing and promoting programs, services, and activities for the advancement of education, health, and wellness in our diverse community. For more information, please visit www.facebook.com/RossCenterInc/
Bill Callen is Vice President, Behan Communications, Inc.