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Improvements to Cosmopolitan Park would benefit Columbia sports leagues

Thursday, February 16, 2012 | 10:01 p.m. CST; updated 10:33 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 16, 2012

COLUMBIA— The football and lacrosse fields at Cosmopolitan Park currently don't have lights and have portable restrooms.

Sharla Hyler said she's had a 10-year vision for improvements to the football fields at Cosmo Park. Hyler is secretary of the Columbia Youth Football League and the mother of football players.

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"We're finally seeing our wishes coming to life on these diagrams they have for us here," Hyler said.

The preliminary plans for field improvements at the park were available for the public to view and comment on at an open house meeting held by the Columbia Parks and Recreation Commission on Thursday night.

The plans are to add lights on two shared fields for football and lacrosse, a building housing restrooms and concessions near the same fields and a new restroom near soccer field 13.

Kevin Ventrillo, president of the Mid-Missouri Lacrosse League, said the new lights and restrooms will increase the league's ability to bring opponents to Columbia. He said the improvements would also allow it to host tournaments for clubs in Kansas City and St. Louis, who have expressed interest in meeting in Columbia.

Both Ventrillo and Hyler said the lights would allow them to start practices later than 5 or 5:30 p.m., which would be more convenient for parents coming from work. And both also commented on the current restroom situation at the field. 

"The port-a-potties are serviceable, but a bathroom is a nice deal for everyone," Ventrillo said.

Toney Lowery, senior park planner for the commission, said his kids played soccer, so he personally knows the need for restrooms in the area. He said he thinks the plan including the restroom and concession building is a good community investment.

"In the spring there's lacrosse, in the fall there's football, in the summer there's softball, and we also have the Show-Me Games, so they'll get used," Lowery said.

The projects will be funded by the Park Sales Tax, approved by voters in 2010.  There is $150,000 of funding available for the lights, and $125,000 available for the restroom and restroom and concession buildings. Currently, the restroom and concession plan presented at the open house is estimated to cost about $138,600, but that is expected to change as the commission revises the plan.

Hyler said the football league is willing to donate to the project if there is a shortage of funds for the final plan.

"We've been pleased with how Parks and Recreation has included us in the planning," Hyler said.

Lowery said that Parks and Recreation will continue to be in contact with the leagues as it moves forward with the plans. Once comments are taken into consideration, the revised plan will go before the commission and, if approved, will then go before the City Council.  

Park Service Manager Michael Griggs said during the meeting that he expects the public hearing will be in March. Lowery said hopes are to complete the projects this fall.


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