The master plan for a proposed central recreation complex has gotten final touches from CHA Sports.
Patrick Graham of CHA Sports presented the master plan revisions and said the schematic designs for the complex, to be located off Highway 21 and Ralph Rahn Road, will take about eight weeks to complete.
“I think this looks very good,” said Chairman Wendall Kessler.
Said County Administrator Toss Allen: “They have incorporated all the comments we gave them. I think they got it exactly where we asked for them to get us to.”
The projected cost for the entire project is $19.2 million, and county officials and CHA Sports are estimating the wish list for phase 1 to be close to $8 million.
“We’re still trying down to winnow down phase 1,” Allen said.
Plans call for several baseball and softball fields, along with a two-court gymnasium. Graham said the gym may be done in a two-step approach.
“I don’t think we can do both courts in phase 1,” he said, “but we figured out how to design the building so that we can do one court in phase 1 and add the second court without disrupting operations. Those are things we will look at in more detail during the schematic phase.”
The original concept of five fields has grown to a six-field complex, with the gymnasium building having one basketball court at the inception. Finishing the gym as desired would cost about $2 million, pushing the phase 1 cost to more than $8 million.
“The gym as designed gives you a lot of flexibility,” Graham said. “You can play multiple games. It’s not like you’re going to have one little gym. You’re going to have a very nice facility. It’s better than one you have now at the Springfield complex.”
Graham added there will be room at the gymnasium for the Effingham County Recreation and Parks staff, which means they could move from their current home near the gym at the Springfield complex.
“It will be a very nice facility,” he said.
Kessler worried that construction on the second part of the gymnasium could be a safety issue with children already on the complex. Allen said much of that can be addressed in schematic design.
The complex, which will sit on more than 120 acres, also will have walking trails around the site. The trails also will work through the fields.
“Once it’s all fully done, you could walk to your heart’s content out there,” Graham said. “You really could.”
A retention pond to be put on the property also is designed to be the primary source of irrigation for the complex.
There also are plans for a dog park in the southwest corner of the complex. Kessler added veterinarians he has spoken with have expressed their concern over dog parks being “breeding grounds” for pet ailments. Commissioner Jamie DeLoach said a large dog park near Charleston, S.C., has restrictions placed on it, informing its users that all dogs over 6 weeks old must be vaccinated against parvovirus and have rabies shots.
Allen said once the schematic designs are done, the commissioners will have decision to make. CHA Sports has the authority in its contract to commence schematic designs.
“Everything seems like it takes so long,” Kessler said, “but the important thing is the end product and I think we’re making the right steps.”