By Candace Sipos
WINCHESTER -- Diane Sinclair said the response to her latest city initiative -- helping people voice their concerns about the proposed minor league baseball stadium -- has been overwhelming.
Sinclair, who served on the city school board and has been involved in various local nonprofit organizations, has lived in Winchester for 38 years. After attending a South End Citizens' Association meeting and hearing a presentation from Jim Deskins, director of economic redevelopment, Sinclair decided to start a petition against the stadium.
"This has taken on a life of its own," Sinclair said this past week from her home at 508 Princess Court in the city.
She had received roughly 20 calls already that morning from people who wanted a copy of the petition. The batch of 25 petitions she left in the box on her front porch Thursday morning were gone when she returned a few hours later. She already has over 120 signatures.
She has e-mailed about 100 of the sheets, which contain 20 lines for signatures each, but many of those people have sent the petition along, she said.
"One person called and said his wife went out with two petitions and everybody she asked wanted to sign it," she said.
Sinclair has asked for all of the petitions to be returned to her today at the latest so that she can present the final product to city council during its Tuesday meeting.
City Council will be holding a public hearing followed by a vote on whether to convey almost 8 acres of land in Jim Barnett Park from the city to the Economic Development Authority to build the stadium.
Sinclair said she doesn't believe the area is the right place for the stadium, mainly because of parking and traffic congestion concerns.
"If I lived over in that area I would be very concerned," she said. "... Our park is not set up to accommodate the number of people they say will come."
She also said that she's concerned about whether the city will realize the financial impact that officials are expecting.
"I'm not against having a minor league here if the economy will support it, but I've not seen the numbers to correlate to that," she said, noting that the first lease agreement that was released seemed like it bended more toward the Hagerstown Suns' owners than the authority or the city.
That lease was taken down from the city's website after the city requested more leeway in the terms.
Deskins said a draft of an updated lease will not be available for public's viewing until after officials secure financing numbers.