Rutter's Cornfield Could Become Sports Complex

28 October 2016

A cornfield along the Susquehanna Trail could become a sports and recreation complex, according to plans recently proposed by Rutter's Properties.

Rutter's already owns the parcel of land in Manchester Township, but it needs permission to build the commercial sports facility along the residential-and-office strip located just south of the First Assembly of God church, said Stewart Olewiler III, the township's zoning officer. The township board of supervisors held a public hearing Oct. 19 where developers proposed some options to build the facility.

Rutter's Properties, tied to the York-based convenience store chain, has proposed a 90,000-square-foot building that would have an indoor field large enough for baseball and soccer games, as well as an area for volleyball courts and a rock-climbing wall, Olewiler said. Outside, there would also be one or more fields, which would be lighted for night games.

The facility would be "for profit but open to the public," according to township documents. There could also be options for pools, skating rinks and bowling alleys, documents state. The complex could include areas for retail, food and beverage concessions, daycare services and other spaces.

Some residents have expressed concern about the traffic the center could add to the road, Olewiler said. "Traffic is always a concern. The ordinance amendment would require it to be on a major thoroughfare."

Gail Hardinger owns a home on the Susquehanna Trail and said she already struggles to turn from the busy thoroughfare into her driveway. Still, a youth sports center would be a good thing for the community, she said.

"I think anything that gets children off the streets and into sports is a good thing," she said.

Exactly who the clientele will be and how much it would cost to use the sports facility is unclear. Gavin Markey, the attorney representing Rutter's, didn't respond to requests for comment.

York County has several youth sports centers, such as Backyard University in Red Lion. Neighboring counties have similar facilities, such as Carmen Fusco Pro Baseball and Softball Academy in New Cumberland, Cumberland County, and Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster County.

Youth sports is a big driver of tourism in York County, and a new sports center could add to that economic benefit, said Anne Druck, president of the York County Convention and Visitor's Bureau.

“When we bring youth here, they have the greatest potential to return as visitors, to return as college students, and to return as taxpayers when they return to start their family," Druck said. “Youth sports has been a way to bring that pebble in the tourism pond, but also those ripples.”

The board of supervisors plans to take action on Rutter's proposal at 7 p.m. Nov. 8, Olewiler said.

That's Election Day, Olewiler pointed out. Township meetings were all planned at the beginning of the year, and the township decided to stick with the date.

"We didn't imagine that the election was going to be as big a deal as it has been," he said.


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