Eugene, Ore. - The day after the Eugene 4J School Board rejected three plans to develop the site of a historic ballpark, many members of the community are asking: "What's next?"
The answer: Nobody knows.
The fate of the historic ballpark has roiled Eugene since the departure of the Eugene Emeralds in 2009.
Thick patches of weeds and grass have overtaken the outfield as community leaders debated the merits of preserving the grandstand versus opening it to development.
The district considered three proposals in a crucial session Wednesday night.
One would've awarded the property to the Eugene 'Y', which wants to use the site for a new recreation center and housing.
The second would've turned the site into a Fred Meyer store.
The third plan would've preserved the grandstand in hopes of one day luring a professional soccer team.
Wednesday's vote was expected to serve as the payoff pitch, resulting in a clear strategy for the future of a stadium built in 1937 by a Great Depression-era workforce.
But the divided board took a pass, ultimately choosing "none of the above."
"It's one of the most difficult decisions I've faced on 16 years on the board," said Craig Smith, the chairman of the 4J board, after the meeting.
As the various stakeholders tried to make sense of Wednesday's vote, the Fred Meyer camp laid blame for the inaction on a last-minute proposal from a rival grocery store.
Rick Wright, the president of Market of Choice, stepped forward after months of debate with a plan to basically pay for the property, lease it to the Eugene 'Y' and save the grandstands.
This was after the 4J superintendent recommended going with Fred Meyer because it would bring in about $7.1 million over 20 years. Wright's Market of Choice is a few blocks down the road from the site of the Willamette St. ballpark.
Steve Master, the Fred Meyer developer, said in a statement Thursday that Wright "got what he demanded" when the board rejected all three proposals. He called on Wright to "be a man of his word and pay up" for his plan.
KVAL called Wright for comment but he said he would have no comment until the school board until after the school board makes its next move.
In a brief telephone interview with KVAL, Master wouldn't say if Fred Meyer remained committed to building at Civic.
The board will discuss the stadium's future once again at its June 15th meeting, but no votes are scheduled.
One option is for the board to ask staff to start the proposal process over.
As for the 'Y' and the preservation crowd, they said they'll keep on trying to find ways to work together while awaiting the next move from the school board.
The school district told KVAL that it costs about $25,000 a year to maintain the vacant ballpark.