Lamar Rec Advisory Board Focuses on Sports Plex

“We’re going to seek a $265,000 GoCo grant to complete the Sports Plex,” said Lamar Leisure Services Director, Rick Akers, as he addressed the Lamar Recreation Advisory Board during their monthly meeting, Wednesday, March 21.  Akers presented board members a list of future city master plan projects that will require funding before they can advance.  The members agreed that the fourplex was at the top of the list for several reasons.  Blain Carere pointed out that all four fields will require constant attention, noting that the quality of the first and second fields has lessened since they were constructed and those two should not be neglected as funding for the remaining two were being sought.   

Craig Brooks, Lamar Community College Athletic Director, agreed and stated that Merchants Park outfield also requires some care at this point.  All members agreed certain areas of city recreation amenities are in need of upkeep, and Akers said the city is allowing additional part time summer help once the summer season gets into high gear.  There was general agreement that the fourplex, once completed, would offer the best return on investment through the state and regional tournaments that can be played there.  Brooks said the tournament activities could easily be increased with four completed fields.  He said that translates to more teams renting motel rooms, eating at restaurants, purchasing fuel and spending money at local retail outlets. 

Akers outlined the financing for the last two fields, explaining that the GoCo funds, if approved, would be used for lights, grass, irrigation, dugouts and other requirements.  He said the scoreboards are already taken care of, but the lighting system would be the most costly.  He added the city can provide the required 25% matching funds from the Conservation Trust Fund.  “These funds are limited,” he said, “and GoCo won’t fund two projects at once.  You have to complete one before you can apply for another.”  He added that the funds are paid out in stages during the project, and GoCo administrators will visit to check on the progress of the construction.  He estimated it would take two years from the awarding of the grant to the project’s completion, probably with the installation of the lighting system in the spring of 2014. 

Other projects mentioned included the need for construction plans for the Valco Ponds.  The city is expected to be presented with the deed to the 108 acres later this year and seeding and vegetation plans needed to be approved by the Bureau of Reclamation.  The Caretakers House in Willow Creek Park needs about $600,000 in construction upgrades, and while not being ignored, because of the cost of that project, will not be fast tracked at this time for funding.  Akers said the city will need to provide matching funds for the grant that should come from the State Historical Society.  Escondido Park was also discussed along with the need for new playground equipment for the North Side Park.  Other areas that needed attention included equipment for Willow Creek Park, maintenance for the Lamar Swimming Pool and a cost estimate for a skateboard park. 

Board members said they would appreciate being informed on these issues from the City Council as they progress and both groups will make sure the lines of communication between both will stay active.

By Russ Baldwin


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