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Keller wants to sell 44-acre Keller Sports Park

With the start of spring soccer less than seven months away, the YMCA of Harrison County, sponsor of the soccer program, is facing a new challenge: purchasing the 44-acre site of the Keller Sports Park.
The YMCA, along with the Friends of Harrison County Youth, the sponsor of softball and baseball programs now played at Rice Island in Corydon, signed a generous, 35-year lease with Keller Manufacturing Co. in April 2002.
Now, Keller, which announced it will close its Corydon plant by the end of the year, wants to sell the property.
‘We want to save jobs in Harrison County and turn this struggling company around,’ said David T. Richardson, who was named Keller’s new chief financial officer last month, following the resignation of five board members, including three key executives. ‘At the same time, we want the community to continue to enjoy Keller Sports Park, but Keller now needs to sell the property.’
Richardson, who serves on a national YMCA board, called the Keller Sports Park and YMCA facility, now under construction, ‘a very impressive recreational complex by any standard.’
Catherine Turcotte, executive director of the YMCA of Harrison County, said she wasn’t entirely surprised when she learned that Keller wanted to sell the 44 acres rather than continue the lease.
‘It was the same week that Keller informed its employees it would be closing the Corydon plant,’ Turcotte said.
Since the end of August, Turcotte and Richardson have met twice to discuss a purchase plan.
‘It’s Keller’s intentions to work with the YMCA and Friends to come up with a purchase plan that will work for everyone,’ Richardson said.
Details of the transaction have not been determined.
‘The YMCA and Friends have always hoped we could purchase the property before the lease ran out,’ Turcotte said. ‘We just didn’t think it would be this soon.’
The property is being appraised.
Turcotte said the YMCA hopes to have an appraisal that reflects the value of the property prior to any work that was done for the project.
An appraisal could be ready in about two weeks, with a purchase price and terms of the transaction finalized soon thereafter.
‘I’m not sure where the money will come from,’ said Kevin Burton, president of Friends of Harrison County Youth, ‘but I know that this project will bring thousands of people to Harrison County.’
The Friends serve more than 500 boys and girls annually.
‘We are now a Babe Ruth-sanctioned league,’ Burton added. ‘That means that when this complex is complete, we will be able to host tournaments of about 24 teams. That represents nearly 300 families for each tournament, and we plan to host at least eight per year.’
The YMCA also is associated with the Indiana Youth Soccer Association (IYSA), which plans to bring the same number of people to the community for tournaments.
‘Between our two groups, we are looking at the potential of at least 4,000 families visiting our community each year,’ Burton said. ‘That will be a boost to the local economy, in addition to being good for our local kids.’
Turcotte said this new turn of events does not jeopardize the completion of the YMCA facility, as the road to the site has already been deeded to the county.
But that’s not good enough for Turcotte.
‘I’m committed to continue the entire project,’ she said, which includes the eight soccer fields and six baseball diamonds at Keller Sports Park.
‘This is a lot bigger than the Y,’ Turcotte said. ‘This is 59 acres for the community dedicated to non-profit recreation. The county has made a significant contribution to this project.
‘This has always been a collaboration of many, many groups and people, all acting in good faith and with trust in one another to benefit the community,’ she said. ‘And that theme is continuing in our negotiations with Keller.’
Richardson has indicated to Turcotte that Keller hopes the negotiations won’t delay or stop, even temporarily, work on the project.
The rough grading of Keller Sports Park is nearly complete, and seed is to be placed on the fields later this month.
‘In good faith, we’re proceeding with that,’ Turcotte said.
Besides the Y facility, and soccer and baseball fields, the 59-acre site will have a concession stand, rest rooms, playground, picnic pavilions and parking for 516 vehicles.
The new Indian Creek Trail project also has plans to link the Keller Sports Park and the YMCA with downtown Corydon with a scenic walkway along Big Indian Creek.