The sign on the chain-link backstop says "no spectators allowed" past the fence.

According to Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms, that's not too big of a challenge lately.

"There's very little ball played on Perkins Field now," he said.

But that hasn't always been the case.

"One of the big things people raise is tradition," he said. "Perkins field, it's been there most of my life."

That sense of tradition had some standing against a proposal to build on the ballfields near city hall, a space named for a Warner Robins teen who died during a baseball game in the 1960s.

Others, like business owner Ken McCall, said during an earlier debate, were OK with development on the site near city hall, just not a multi-million-dollar affordable housing complex.

"If you want your retail to come in and your restaurants to thrive, go ahead and target a higher income," he said.

Still, others, like Councilman Tim Thomas, said the project was a smart move for the city trying to welcome a new generation to public service.

"What we're doing at Perkins Field is going to help provide housing for starting police officers, airmen, starting teachers, starting firemen," he said.

In the end, that argument won the day. 

Monday night, by a 4 to 2 vote, Warner Robins mayor and council approved leasing the field to the project developers.

Council members Daron Lee, Tim Thomas, Clifford Holmes, and Larry Curtis voted in favor of the agreement.

Councilman Keith Lauritsen and Mayor Randy Toms voted against it.

Though he came out on the losing side, Toms says it's now time for everyone to get on the same team.

"I think the only way -- like just about any other issue -- that we can take this gamble, to use the vernacular, and win is if we all get on the same page to move this thing forward," he said.

According to Toms, the lease agreement Monday night was approved pending approval from state and federal regulators.

He says because of some technicalities involving the land's status as a recreation site, the city needs to prove that when it gets rid of the recreation space at Perkins Field, it's replacing it with another rec space of the same or greater value.

With millions of dollars in recreation spending and a number of recreation projects like Tanner Field and the Deloris Toliver Park recently constructed, Toms said he thinks regulators will be satisfied.

The paperwork could still take some time, he said, but he's not expecting any surprises.

According to property developers, the complex will feature an on-site health center and a dedicated space for the Warner Robins farmers market.

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