06Athletic ComplexIt’s official. Fayetteville’s sports complex to be funded as part of last year’s $35 million recreation bond referendum will be built at the Military Business Park off SantaFe Drive. It was the overwhelming preference of city council members. A city-owned property off Fields Road in East Fayetteville was also considered.

The athletic complex, proposed as part of the referendum, is planned to include 15 ball fields for softball, baseball, soccer and football. A clubhouse for concessions and banquet/meeting rooms is also planned. The projected cost of $5.5 million does not include purchase of the property adjacent to the military business park. That could add $4 million to the price.

The council committee that studied locations was chaired by Kathy Jensen, who recommended the SantaFe Drive site.

Councilman Jim Arp stressed that location is significantly important because “sports tourism is a $7billion industry nationwide.” The proposed site is near I-295 and 2.7 miles from the mall retail area. Arp noted the locale is already equipped with water and sewer utilities and is likely to attract significant commercial development.

At its monthly work session, citycouncil also tried to allay the concerns of residents along and near the two-lane section of Cliffdale Road between Morganton and McPherson Church Roads. State DOT Division Engineer Greg Burns said widening of the roadway was added to the state’s highway improvement program last year. He said engineering and surveying work is underway, but construction isn’t scheduled to begin until 2024. Burns said numerous efforts will be taken to encourage public input on design planning beginning in the fall.

The marathon meeting included discussion of multiple projects. It appears city council is backing away from trying to justify repairing half a dozen earthen dams that were heavily damaged or destroyed during hurricane Matthew a year and-a half ago. The cost of repairing two of the dams is already in the millions of dollars; and the NC Dam Safety agency is holding nearby residents responsible. City officials say they can’t get involved because the dams and lakes serve no public interest.

Council members, including Kathy Jensen, said repairing the dams is unaffordable for residents and the city. “It just doesn’t make sense,” she said.

Councilman Bill Crisp, whose district includes two of the dams, told his colleagues the projects are not doable because of the high cost. Council agreed to cancel further studies of the other four dams where residents indicated an interest in restoring them.

Planning and engineering of the proposed West Senior Center at Lake Rim Park continues. Council learned that the cost of the proposed $5 million project, which is also part of the bond package, is now just short of $7 million. A pair of 19,000-square-foot buildings is planned overlooking Lake Rim off Old Raeford Road. Some council members would like to eliminate a heated therapeutic swimming pool to reduce the cost. Staff will continue evaluating possible project cuts.

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