- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 19, 2004

Residents of Riverdale Park voted yesterday in a special referendum to overturn the town council’s decision to sell a coveted children’s ball field.

In a 428-217 vote, the residents determined that town officials improperly sold the property at Lafayette and Tuckerman Streets, which they said is needed for their children to play sports.

The mayor and town council voted 5-1 in June to pass an emergency ordinance that would allow them to sell the land, named the “Field of Dreams,” for $300,000. The sale would have enabled town officials to balance and close the budget, which was $217,000 short because of a budget mistake.

Residents said the officials did not issue a public notice or provide a public-comment period and didn’t advertise a public request for proposals or conduct a competitive bid process before the sale. They responded by circulating a petition in July and collecting enough petition signatures to bring about the referendum to reverse the decision.

Mayor Guy Tiberio, a town official for 22 years, said the field was not being used enough and the town needed the money. He also said the property north of the field had been turned over to the University of Maryland and no longer could be taxed by the town and that the town counted on $200,000 taxes each year from that property.

Mr. Tiberio said the young ballplayers have been using fields on Sheridan Street and Taylor Road.

Peter Spiropoulos, owner of the nearby Dumm’s Corner Market and Dumm’s Pizza and Subs, purchased the field and agreed to pay the town $150,000 immediately.

A supporter of the plan to overturn the town’s decision said yesterday the contract with Mr. Spiropoulos included a clause that said voters had to agree to the sale.

Supporters also said Mr. Tiberio and the council violated Maryland’s Open Meetings Act by meeting in a closed session on June 21, when, residents said, the officials discussed the sale.

Mr. Tiberio denied accusations that he and the town council violated the act. He said the reason for closing the meeting was “to discuss possible strategies and conditions to be applied on negotiating a contract,” according to the Maryland Gazette. The mayor said the closed meeting was in compliance with the act.

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