By Steve Woodhouse
Pella — A new $6 million sports park, featuring softball, baseball and utility fields is scheduled to begin construction on the east side of Pella in 2013.
The Pella City Council approved a resolution at its most recent regular meeting to enter into a partnership with Fields For Our Future, Inc., (FFOF) a non-profit entity formed specifically for the purpose of the creation of this park. FFOF has already received commitments from the Vermeer Charitable Foundation, Pella Rolscreen Foundation and the Peter H. and E. Lucille Gaass Kuyper Foundation. Through these donations, FFOF will contribute $3.5 million to the project.
The City of Pella's contribution will be $2.5 million, paid with Local Option Sales and Services Tax (LOSST) revenue. City Administrator Mike Nardini said the construction of the sports park was included as one of the stated uses for LOSST revenue. Residents overwhelmingly approved (85 percent of the vote) the renewal of the LOSST last year, through 2023.
The park will be located on 105 acres of land on the east side of town, north of Old Highway 163, north of the Skyline Ready Mix plant. Land acquisition is expected for later this year.
The park, modeled after the Lacy Sports Complex in Oskaloosa, will be City owned, operated and maintained. Nardini said he is working on future financial plans for the City, to include a $100,000-125,000 annual operation subsidy for the park.
There are 4-5 Little League fields planned in the first phase of the park, and possibly a Babe Ruth League field. In the long term, Nardini says plans include a number of fields, such as utility fields for soccer, flag football, youth tackle football, etc.
Rolscreen has pledged $275,000 in 2012 for the project, and $360,000 annually through 2016. Kuyper has pledged $40,000 annually from 2012-16, and Vermeer pledged $250,000, which began in 2010, through 2015.
"This project would not be possible without significant private donations," Nardini said. He wanted to thank everyone for their support.
Other features for the park include a utility building, bleachers, a children's playground, concession stand, batting cages, shelters, parking and paved sidewalks. The land for the park is currently under contract, but not yet owned by the City. The park is tentatively scheduled to open in the spring of 2014.