Residents near proposed sports complex still oppose its location

To Lois Damron, the creation of a sports complex in southeastern Marion County represents the continuation of a lifetime mission that has been focused on wellness. Prospective neighbors to the complex are “sick” thinking about how it will disrupt their lives.

“This is not a new mission for me,” said Damron, during an appearance Monday, April 17, before the County Commission in Palmyra. “Wellness and providing healthy athletic activity for all ages is something I’ve worked on for decades. It’s kind of a personal mission and bucket list.”

For Damron to be able to succeed in her mission she will need the Commission to approve her request to rezone 40 acres of her property from agriculture to commercial. Monday’s appearance was to allow Damron to provide drawings and maps of the proposed complex, located near County Road 429 and near the Norwoods development.

In the process of presenting the drawings, Damron was asked about the absence of light towers on the plans. She said the complex, which will consist of baseball, softball and soccer fields, will be equipped so that play can continue after sundown.

“We will have lighting for the fields,” said Damron. “We’ve talked about the best way of diverting that lighting so it isn’t disruptive. We’ll do our best to avoid that (disruption).”

Damron’s promise didn’t comfort Ryan Schuenke, whose home is located near the site of the projected complex.

“If you’re going to put up big light poles and have flood lights going out there until 10, 10:30, 11 o’clock at night for these games, we’re not talking about not being disruptive to the people who live out there and wanted to live in a quiet, county setting,” he said.

Schuenke expressed concern that if Marion County rezones Damron’s 40 acres, the adjacent 60 acres she owns in Ralls County will also be rezoned commercial. He compared it to opening Pandora’s Box.

“I’m not going to live out there next to all of this once you get 100 acres of commercial property, flood lights, people yelling and screaming all hours of the day. It was quieter in Hannibal than it’s going to be out on this ball field,” he said. “I sure didn’t buy this property and put the money I put into it to live next to flood lights that are on until 10 or 11 at night.”

Damron has yet to seek the rezoning of her 60 acres in Ralls County.

“I’ve talked to Ralls County, I just haven’t turned in the application,” she said. “I didn’t want too many things going on at one time.”

According to Presiding Commissioner Lyndon Bode, drawings of the complex’s layout will remain on display in the office of Teya Stice, county coordinator, in the Palmyra courthouse until Monday, May 1, when the rezoning request is due to be taken up again by the Commission at 10 a.m.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com