Under the proposed agreement, SESA would pay Burlington $20,000 within three years for priority use of some RecPlex fields.

The one item that dominated the most conversation Monday during Burlington City Council's work session was its potential contract agreement with Southeast Soccer Academy for use of the RecPlex.

The proposed agreement binds the city with SESA in a five-year contract, which could be renewed at the end of the term for an additional five years. Under the five-year contract, SESA would pay Burlington $10,000 — $2,000 annually — for use of its fields.

Eric Tysland, development and parks director, said it cost the city about $2,500 annually for fertilizer and seed on the fields, but the city also is responsible for mowing, water and lighting costs. Currently, SESA pays about $500 monthly toward lighting in the fall because it is needed more often than in the summer.

Doug Ziegler, SESA president, attended Monday's meeting to advocate in favor of a 10-year contract in which the organization pays the city $20,000 within the first three years of the new contract for use of three of its practice fields. In addition to games and practices, SESA currently hosts two annual tournaments at the city-owned RecPlex.

Without a 10-year contract, Ziegler said SESA could not make the large-scale improvements it wants at the RexPlex, such as lighting one of the back fields, adding another concession stand, irrigation work or fencing.

"We want the agreement to basically reflect the cost that we're putting into the complex," Ziegler said, noting any of the improvements mentioned would cost more than the proposed five-year contract would allow.

Mayor Shane McCampbell resisted the idea of a 10-year contract for most of the discussion because he was concerned about the potential for future costs to rise, but eventually came around to the idea when it was decided to add a cap to the agreement, stating the city could charge SESA an additional fee, up to a certain point, to accommodate increased maintenance and personnel costs.

Tysland ultimately was asked to rework the contract language with SESA to reflect the 10-year agreement instead of the initial five-year proposal. Because of the requested changes, he said the finalized contract likely would not be ready in time for approval at next week's regular meeting.

"If they're willing to make the financial commitment on the front end in order to make improvements, for me, the return for us is better and makes up the difference of what they're not actually paying us," said councilman Matt Rinker, referencing the money that is spent in the community when SESA hosts large tournaments locally.

Other business

• Nick MacGregor, assistant city manager to public works, said he received a $172,000 bid Monday for work at the train depot, which would put the project over its current budget. No lease agreement currently is in place for the space, which has been partially remodeled in the hopes of attracting new business;

• When asked by Tysland if council was interested in hearing proposals from local schools about renting time at city-owned tennis courts, there was no consensus among the group. Tysland was asked to talk with the schools and city staff to see if an agreement possibly could be reached, but McCampbell and council member Annie Wilson were leaning toward finding money within the city budget to make improvements to the courts, rather than rely on contributions from the Burlington School District or Notre Dame.

Next week's meeting will be held 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, instead of Monday, due to Labor Day.