Push is on to reopen Leesburg sports complex



LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - WFTV learned there's a fight to reopen a multimillion dollar sports complex in Leesburg.

Over the past year, the city has spent the bare minimum to maintain the Sleepy Hollow Recreational Complex, and now it's unusable.

There was a time when it was one of the city of Leesburg's crown jewels, but the sports complex has seen better days.

"One to 10, I'll give it a five. It has potential. So, I would really like for it to look better than what it is and be taken care of," said resident Bianca Hayes.

It was built during the boom in '04 for $3.5 million. But proper upkeep of the 80 acres came in at $300,000 a year. And last year, the cash-strapped city closed the park and slashed the maintenance budget.

"Last year we spent about $182,000 to keep it from going to pot," said Leesburg Commissioner David Knowles.

City leaders proposed a tax hike to help pay for facilities like this, but residents launched a petition drive to stop it.

"One of the people who probably got as many signatures on the petition as anybody in Leesburg wants to see the fields reopened," said Knowles.

Hayes doesn't see the logic in that, but she also can't see living next to several baseball fields and not being able to use them.

"My son was in T-ball, and we had to travel across town. So, I would have enjoyed if they would have it right there so my family could come out and see and support us. So, it would have been nice to go there to that park," she said.

Knowles said if the city raises the utility tax by enough, it can reopen the ball fields and kill the weeds.