Tryon Town Council agrees to save open air gym at Harmon Field

Published 1:19 pm Friday, January 23, 2009

&uot;During the drought nobody thought about it, but suddenly we get all this rain and we realized the extent of the damage,&dquo; said Ortiz.

Ortiz also noted that the building has been used often for recreational activities, particularly for youth. He said Harmon Field director George Alley has many more youth activities planned at the facility in the future. Some of the activities are fee-based and could help pay back the loan for repairs, he said.

&dquo;We ask that you look at it seriously, and don&squo;t let the open air gym deterioriate,&dquo; said Ortiz.

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Alley went to county commissioners for the second time on Tuesday to ask for their help. He said Harmon Field would like the county to pay half of the cost for roof repairs. Commissioners have indicated they may be willing to contribute some funds, but decided to table the matter until next month so they have time to see what Tryon plans to do.

Tryon said they would like to see the county help, particularly since many of the people who use Harmon Field live outside the town and Tryon Township. Property owners in the town and township pay taxes to support Harmon Field.

Tryon council members agreed in principle to work toward saving the building, but said they will have to work out details of the loan and Harmon Field&squo;s repayment. The loan to Harmon Field would not preclude the county from assisting, they said.

Once repairs are made to the gym&squo;s roof, Harmon Field officials have said they plan to pursue state grant funds to upgrade the structure. They have planned to renovate the interior of the building, the playing surface and fencing, and add a climbing wall. The open-air gym is currently used for basketball and was used this past summer for a Harmon Field concert series, but Alley has said it could be used for much more if it&squo;s renovated.