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SUNSET, Utah (AP) -- City officials dispute the existence of a 59-year-old agreement between Sunset and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over the use of a city softball field.
Daniel Hole, athletic director of the church's Sunset Stake, contends the city owes church members access once a week, preferably Thursday, to the lighted ball diamond.
He said the use was part of a deal agreed to Sept. 27, 1946, when the church sold the eight-acre parcel to the city for $10.
The arrangement was based on a written agreement city leaders can no longer find, Hole said.
City leaders are questioning whether there ever was such an agreement.
A warranty deed documenting the $10 transaction between the church and city has been found, said Sunset Recreation Director Cory Haddock. But that deed does not stipulate the church receive a free night on the ball field to host its softball leagues.
The agreement between the church and city also cannot be found in any of the minutes of council meetings.
Allowing church teams to use the field one night a week would cost the city hundreds of dollars in revenue it now receives from fast-pitch and slow-pitch softball teams, Haddock said.
Mayor Jan Galbraith said there may have been a verbal agreement, but, even so, the city did not then have the softball teams willing to pay to play on the field that it has.
"When they made the agreement, they didn't have the baseball leagues they do now," she said.
In the past, under the direction of another mayor and city council, church softball teams were given access to the park on Thursday, Galbraith said. But church members failed to field teams, leaving the park unattended on a night when it could otherwise be filled.
Hole said it is unreasonable to think the church would sell such prime property to the city for $10 and gain nothing in return.
Even if a written document cannot be found, a verbal agreement should stand the test of time, he said.
City leaders are attempting to enter into a formal written agreement with church leaders, Galbraith said.
In a recent meeting, a proposal was made by the city to allow the church use of the field on Tuesday or Wednesday night because of the high demand for Thursday night.
Hole said the problem with that is that Thursday is one of the few nights in which there are no youth church activities to compete with softball.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)