Originally published in print edition of Yellowstone County News.
BILLINGS — After over a year of negotiating, the city of Billings and the Billings Mustangs have approved a lease for Dehler Park.
The lease extends until 2026.
The City Council approved the new lease on an 8-1 vote after a long Monday night session in the council chambers. Brent Cromley voted no; Larry Brewster and Angela Cimmono did not attend the meeting. Part of the discussion on the lease renewal centered around an addendum to the lease agreement that spelled out education and certification for the field’s groundskeeper, or turf manager. Mustangs owner Dave Heller asked the city to remove Exhibit B, saying it would require the Mustangs to find a new turf manager to replace John Barta, who is the club’s senior director of field maintenance and facilities.
Currently, Barta does not have the formal certifications that Exhibit B would have required.
Gary Roller, general manager for the Billings Mustangs, said Wednesday that the team’s support for Barta as an experienced and exemplary turf manager was only one of its concerns over Exhibit B, which refers to any current or future employees in that position.
Barta, a Shepherd High School teacher, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and has announced his retirement from the school district.
“John is our turf manager and will be our turf manager until he decides not to be,” said Roller. One of the concerns with what has been titled Exhibit B was that it locked any present or future turf manager into certain required certifications and degrees.