Works board to hear Rec Complex funding request for the third time

The El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex Board of Directors will present a funding request for Phase II of its master improvement plan to the El Dorado Works Board today. (News-Times file)
The El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex Board of Directors will present a funding request for Phase II of its master improvement plan to the El Dorado Works Board today. (News-Times file)

The third time may be the charm for the El Dorado Recreation Complex Commission, who will approach the El Dorado Works Board today with a funding request to continue a major expansion and improvement project at the recreation complex on Champagnolle Road.

The EWB's regular monthly meeting is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. today in the Council Chamber of City Hall.

The EWB will hear the presentation for the third time this year.

The board administers the city's one-cent sales tax that is directed toward economic development, municipal infrastructure and quality-of-life projects.

Fifteen percent of the tax revenue is dedicated to quality-of-life projects, including 6% for sports, recreational or outdoor venues or projects.

The EUCRCC's funding request centers on the second phase of the ongoing master plan to renovate and expand the complex.

Phase one got underway in late 2019 and was largely completed in 2021.

The first phase included two new soccer fields, two new baseball and softball fields and the completion of two existing baseball and softball fields -- all on the south end of the complex.

New turf, lighting and fencing were also added to the four older fields on the north end of the facility.

The work was largely covered by $2.7 million from the El Dorado Works tax.

The El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission kicked in an additional $271,800 to help complete the soccer fields after complex commissioners learned there was a budget shortfall for phase one due to unexpected engineering costs.

Murphy USA donated two used kiosks to serve as concession stands for the south fields of the complex.

The kiosks are valued at $350,000 each and additional funding, $100,000, was spent to transport the structures from Georgia and to set them up at the complex in March of 2022.

Another $115,000 was taken from the complex budget for electrical and plumbing work.

Some electrical work remains, as well as the purchase of basic equipment and the installation of sliding glass windows to operate the concession stands.

The kiosks will also help, at least in part, meet the final component of phase one: additional restrooms for the complex.

Commissioners have said that the two kiosks come with a total of three restrooms that may double as short-term first-aid stations in the event of an emergency.

Phase two of the master plan calls for a new multi-purpose field on the south end of the complex to be used for older teen and adult baseball and softball players, flag football, soccer, etc.

The field would be built on land that has been donated by PotLatch Deltic to expand the complex southward.

Members of the EUCRCC have said that space is tight for older players at the complex, with six teams vying for practice and playing time at the School Boy Rowe field, the only field at the complex that can accommodate older players.

A recreational (walking/jogging/bike) trail and parking lot improvements are also included in phase two of the master plan.

The EUCRCC approached the EWB in January to ask for funding for phase two and board members requested additional information.

They asked the EUCRCC to look into potential cost-cutting measures, such as more donations.

Murphy USA subsequently agreed to donate a third kiosk to be used for concession sales at the new field.

Greg Harrison, chairman of the commission, has said the kiosk is in El Dorado and would not have to be transported from another state.

Union County previously agreed to perform in-kind services to improve the parking lot of the complex.

When the EUCRCC returned to the EWB in July with the additional information and a $4.8 million funding request, the board then asked for a quote to hire a construction manager to oversee the development of phase two, a detailed budget, the scope of work, architectural renderings, topographic survey of the land that was donated by Potlatch, etc.

The EUCRCC was accompanied in July by a crowd of parents, coaches and others who spoke in favor of the project in a meeting that was fraught with tension.

Today, the complex commission plans to bring three engineers to go over the information that was requested by the EWB, answer questions and address concerns.

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