Democracy on the Front Lines
City Administrator’s Blog
December 6, 2005
The Family Sports Park continues to take shape. The Sports Park Design Team met yesterday to refine the Phase 1 design. As usual, we do not have enough money to do everything we want to do so we need to make some tough decisions on what to leave in and what to take out. However, the goal is for each phase of park development to include all facets of recreation: structured recreation (athletics and fields), general recreation (playgrounds and trails), and passive recreation (landscaping and water features).
On the positive side, the Phase 1 design is complete and shows amenities for all types of recreation. The design outlines four multi-purpose ball fields, community playground, hiking/biking trail, general greenspace, and a road through the property. Below is the sketch for the Phase 1 improvements and the estimated costs are approximately $6 million.
The 200-acre Sports Park Master Plan also includes soccer fields, community park, community center, amphitheater, dog park, more trails, and a recreational lake. The estimated build-out for the park is about 20 years. The City does not have enough money to do everything at once and we will try to make significant improvements annually. Below is the Master Plan design. Click here for more information about the Family Sports Park.
We plan to have the Phase 1 design documents finalized in January so we can solicit bids in February and begin construction in March. Construction should take 8-12 months and the grass will need time to grow and strengthen. We anticipate the ball fields opening for play in the fall of 2007.
At this point, there are three primary sources of funding for the Sports Park. The most significant funding source is the hotel/motel tax. When the City becomes home rule, the City intends to increase the hotel/motel tax and designate those funds to the Sports Park. This is allowable because the park will be a tourist destination for baseball, softball, and soccer tournaments. The tax should be able to generate about $5.4 million for Phase 1 construction.
The second source is the telecommunications tax. Last July, the City Council increased this tax from 1% to 5% to bring an additional $500,000 per year for Sports Park improvements. Due to the unstable nature of the telecommunications industry, we cannot borrow off of this revenue source but the tax will be a valuable resource for making one-time purchases such as equipment, mowers, scoreboards, etc.
The final revenue source is state and federal grants. This is a very unstable source of money because you cannot guarantee whether you will receive any grants from year to year. We have to compete with other cities for grant funding. In addition, grants also often require local matches which will require funding from either the hotel/motel tax or the telecommunications tax. We hope to receive a $400,000 state grant for Phase 1 construction but we have not yet heard whether our grant application was approved.
We have been working hard to increase the amount of greenspace in O’Fallon. The 2001 Parks Master Plan indicated we were woefully deficient in park space and since then we have built Thoman Park, improved Rock Springs Park, begun maintenance of St. Ellen Mine Park, required park dedication in the City’s Subdivision Ordinance, and purchased 200 acres for the Family Sports Park. In addition, a recent citizen survey indicated that many of our residents are young families who are very interested in park development. The Family Sports Park should be a big step towards addressing those needs.