The Wendelstedt Umpire School will remain in Ormond Beach for another decade.
The city of Ormond Beach has renewed a 10-year lease agreement for the Wendelstedt Umpire School, despite concerns raised by Commission Dwight Selby, who initially said at the Aug. 2 City Commission meeting that he felt the city was subsidizing the school "significantly."
Selby asked the commission to pull the resolution from the agenda, wanting to discuss two issues he had with the lease agreement for the school, which operates in Harry Wendelstedt Jr. baseball fields at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex for 45 days out of the year. Selby said he thought the 10-year term for the lease was too long, regardless of the fact that the umpire school’s lease had been renewed twice for that length of term in the past; and he also felt the city would be receiving too little compensation.
“Intuitively, I believe we the city are subsidizing this significantly,” Selby said.
He said the compensation was less than $4,500 for the 45 days the school operates in Ormond — less than $100 per day. He clarified he didn’t want the school to leave Ormond Beach, but did want to discuss the lease agreement before voting on it.
Doug Wigley, T-ball director for the Ormond Beach Youth Baseball and Softball Association, agreed with Selby. He also thought the term was too long and the city was receiving too little for the four fields and field house in the sports complex.
Their comments sparked passionate words from the Wendelstedts and those close to them. Hunter Wendelstedt, who took over the Wendelstedt Umpire School after the death of his father, Harry Wendelstedt Jr., said his father would be upset with Selby and Wigley if he were alive.
“For the money we’re talking about, I believe my figures are anywhere from $1.6 to $1.8 million a year in economic development,” Wendelstedt said.“And I’m not up here to make threats or say we’re going to leave because then my dad would be upset with me. This is Ormond Beach — this is where I’m grew up, this is where I’m gonna retire.”
According to their website, the Wendelstedt Umpire School is the only independently run professional umpire school recognized by both Minor and Major League Baseball.
“I think the positive thing we do for Ormond Beach is exposing Ormond Beach to the world,” Wendelstedt said.
He also clarified that the school is only on the field for 29 days out of the 45.
Ormond Beach resident Doug Thomas also spoke in favor of the Wendelstedt Umpire School.
“The economic impact that this school brings to, has brought, and will bring to Ormond Beach way outweighs the money that some people think is too low,” Thomas said.
Aside from Selby, the rest of the commissioners were on board about renewing the lease.
“The Wendelstedt School does more to say this is a great city to this country than literally any other organization you can think of,” Commissioner Rick Boehm said. “And they have for years.”
After hearing all that was said during the 30-minute discussion, Selby apologized to the Wendelstedts and changed his mind.
“I understand better now the impact of this for our community,” Selby said.
When the City Commission officially voted on the lease agreement, the decision was unanimous to renew it. In the closing remarks, Commissioner Troy Kent applauded Selby for showing that the commission can change its mind and that they listen to people’s opinions.
During the meeting, the city also accepted a certificate celebrating 55 years of Ormond Beach as a council-manager government, approved the annual agreement between the city and Ormond Main Street and passed a resolution to amend the annual budget.