COLUMBIA — The first phase of a five-field baseball complex near the Boone County Fairgrounds is on track to be ready by the April 1 deadline.
The first phase of the complex, a joint project between the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department and Boone County, includes the construction of two baseball fields, one 400 feet deep and the other 300 feet; an irrigation lake; and a 140-space gravel parking lot. Wilcoxon Excavating and Construction has been contracted by the city to work on the project. Currently, a substantial amount of grading has been completed and the irrigation process is just getting started.
Tony Lowry, park planner for the city, said the phasing plans for the rest of the complex are not set in stone.
“Whatever else happens will be determined by how much funding there is, what direction we get from council and what the public wants,” he said.
The city and county co-own the 80-acre property, which was donated to them by Tom Atkins in 2002. According to a press release issued by the parks department, Atkins donated the land with the intention of it being developed for youth recreation.
Skip Elkin, Boone County Northern District commissioner, says he believes providing children with more recreational opportunities is an investment in the future of the community.
“I think you’ll find that statistics show that kids who are actively involved in any organized activity are less apt, in lay terms, to go down the wrong path,” he said.
Elkin, who serves on the county’s Board for Parks Commission, said the community has some shortcomings in recreational opportunities.
“The county has done some master planning, some surveying, to identify the needs in the community,” he said. “We have determined that we are underserved in a lot of different areas, including baseball and softball.”
Phase one of the project will cost a total of $1.45 million. Of that, $1.03 million will come from the city’s quarter-cent sales tax for parks, $220,355 from the recreation services fund, $76,055 from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund and $123,995 from Boone County.