07 baseball softball complexThe Fayetteville City Council has decided to locate a $9 million sports complex on property owned by the U.S. Army at I-295 and McArthur Road. Council had also considered a city-owned tract on Fields Road in East Fayetteville. A five-year lease agreement with Fort Bragg calls for developing the first phase of the sports complex at a cost of $3.5 million. The city approved a memorandum of understanding with Fort Bragg to build baseball and softball fields which would be shared by Fort Bragg troops and the general public.

The city will build and maintain the complex, which will provide priority use by soldiers during specified weekly time periods. The money to launch the complex will be drawn from proceeds of the 2016 $35 million parks and recreation bond referendum. The facility will eventually include additional sports and recreation facilities which have not yet been designated by the city. The City Council was divided on the initial agreement, with council members Shakeyla Ingram, Courtney Banks-McLaughlin and Tisha Waddell dissenting.

They preferred the Fields Road site. Citizens "east of the river have been advocating for development and investment for longer than I have been alive," Ingram said. Councilman Chris Davis called her remarks divisive, pointing out that 60% of bond revenues have been spent in Ingram’s district. District 2 consists of the region east of the river and the downtown business area. A staff report provided to council earlier proposes opening this first phase of the sports complex two years from now.

City Council also agreed on a $1.5 million upgrade of the Jordan Soccer Complex at Methodist University. The city/county recreation and parks department will install a lighting system and renovate the soccer fields and parking facilities. The university gets the upgrades, while the city hopes the improvements will generate greater interest in sanctioned tournament play to generate income. The lease provides for open use of the soccer fields by the public when tournaments are not being held. The agreement also officially designated the complex as the trailhead for the Cape Fear River Trail. Recreation Director Michael Gibson said this project gives the city the ability to expand its soccer and football programs while also providing 35 acres of undesignated green space.

In other business at the Oct. 26 meeting, City Council members unanimously approved an agreement with Fayetteville State University to develop a multi-million-dollar East Senior Center at the intersection of Filter Plant and Murchison Roads. It will resemble the first of two regional senior centers funded by the 2016 parks and recreation referendum. The Senior Center West was built adjacent to the recreation center at Lake Rim. Gibson said this project will be a "game-changer" for redevelopment of the Murchison Road corridor.

Pictured: Fayetteville City Council voted to locate a $9 million sports complex on property owned by the U.S. Army at I-295 and McArthur Road. The completed baseball and softball fields would be shared by Fort Bragg troops and the general public. (Photo for illustration purposes.)

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