Litchfield Gets Glimpse Of Potential Sports Park

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Before the regular Litchfield City Council meeting on Thursday, Aug. 1, members of the community got the opportunity to see some of the tentative plans for the proposed Route 66 Crossing Sports Park, which would be located just behind Litchfield Plaza.

The meeting fulfilled one of the obligations for the IDNR park and open space development grant that the city is applying for. Without the grant, the sports complex would not be economically feasible and would not be pursued, according to City Administrator Tonya Flannery.

Flannery said that the project began when Impact FC, a 501c3 soccer club centered in Montgomery and Macoupin counties, reached out to the city to help find a home base for the club of 250-plus players.

The conceptual drawings would call for eight grass fields, ranging from youth fields to high school 11 versus 11 pitches. The Greenwalt and Associates-designed complex would also have two playgrounds, a half-mile walking trail, 90 parking spaces, a concession stand and space for two baseball/softball fields in a future phase.

Flannery said that if the grant is awarded, construction on the complex could begin next summer.

The grant in question calls for a 50/50 split of funds, with the max amount set at $800,000 total. Flannery said the total scope of the project would cost $2 to $3 million, which would come from TIF funds, tourism funds and grants and donations.

Flannery said that the city would own the park, with Impact FC leasing and maintaining the fields. The deadline for the grant is Aug. 19, with IDNR reviewing the grants after that for six to eight months. The grants are scored on a number of different criteria, including needs of the community, how the project fits within the city's master plan, TIF availability and potential for improvement.

After Flannery's presentation, the floor was opened for questions and comments, with Mike Fleming the first to say that he thought the project was a good idea. He had a few suggestions, including interior sidewalks, a spectator area and the need for a fence along the roadway.

Mark Bloome was on hand representing the Litchfield Youth Soccer Association. Bloome said his group had 240 Litchfield kids participating and wanted to know how to get involved.

Flannery said that Bloome would want to speak with Impact FC regarding the scheduling of the fields. She also said that the other areas of the park would be open to the public, although time on the fields would have to be scheduled.

Bloome also asked about the possibility of lighting on one of the fields. Flannery said that was possible, but costly, and would probably require funds from a different grant.

Alderman Ray Kellenberger asked if other communities were looking at similar projects. Flannery said that Impact FC had spoken with other locations during the search for a home field.

Ed Wernsing, who has two grandsons playing for Impact FC, said that as a business owner, he believes that the economic impact of the complex would be huge for Litchfield. Flannery said that Greenwalt conservatively estimated that the economic impact for one tournament would be $100,000 with potential for much more. Dougherty said that the complex could also draw other businesses to the area.

Flannery said that if the city receives the grant, the land has to be a park for 20 years, but doesn't necessarily have to be a sports complex for that long. 

She also added that the sidewalk project on the west side of town will begin in October and would connect the complex with much of that part of town.

The regular portion of the meeting would take just 15 minutes as the council approved 21 items during that span.

The council approved the appointment of Britney Murphy to the tourism board, the minutes from the July 18 and July 25 meetings, to continue to table a motion regarding surplus weapons at the police department and the motion to transfer funds and pay bills to start the meeting. 

The July 25 meeting was a special meeting in which the council approved a motion to declare Legends Underground Utilities Inc. in default and terminate the contract the city had with the company for work on the water main project at the new industrial park.

The council also agreed to a motion to enter into a take over agreement with the surety, Hudson Insurance Company, upon approval by the city attorney and outside counsel and to change the scope of the EDA agreement to remove bid package number one.

In new business, the first six motions pertained to street projects as the council approved the building of a control system for the stand-by generator at the Route 66 Industrial park for $3,089.17, the final pay request from Charles E. Mahoney Co. for the Tyler Street project for $15,199.21, the engineering proposal for reconstruction of North Monroe from Martin Engineering for $90,819.61, a motion to accept the reconstruction of Sargent Street and an engineering proposal from Crawford, Murphy and Tilly for the reconstruction of North Illinois for an amount not to exceed $62,000.

The council also approved a resolution of support and commitment of local funds for the marketing partnership program grant application, a resolution to support the tourism attraction program grant applications and to accept a quote to repair the brick landscape wall at Library Park from Dobrinich and Johns Brick for the amount of $11,485.

Three lake items were approved, including accepting a proposal from Crawford, Murphy and Tilly not to exceed $89,700 for services regarding the Lake Lou Yaeger watershed implementation project/319 grant, to advertise for construction bids for the Eagle Ridge subdivision and to purchase six kayaks from Competitive Edge Products for $2,319.96.

The council also approved the purchase of a portable water sampler for $2,671.50, the purchase of three Verizon cellular modems at $723 each, a 60-month lease for equipment with Watts Copy Systems and to declare a 1995 fire tender and 1997 Navistar E-One Squad for disposal through a fire apparatus broker. The council also approved a change in meeting dates, from Sept. 19 to Sept. 17, before entering into closed session at 6:45 p.m.

The council will meet again on Thursday, Aug. 15, at 6:30 p.m.

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