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Ground could be broken for sports complex

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‘This is going to enhance what we already have.’

By Franklin Clark

Ground could be broken later this year on a sports complex that would be located on KY 55, near the proposed Campbellsville Bypass.

That is what Campbellsville Mayor Tony Young said during Monday night’s Campbellsville City Council meeting. He added that the complex won’t replace the ball fields at Trace Creek or Miller Park.

“This is going to enhance what we already have,” said Young. “We hope to have things ready to go by spring or summer of this year.”

The first of two proposed phases could take two years or more to complete. The first phase will consist of one quad that has four 210-foot ball fields, a concessions stand with restrooms, a parking lot, two batting cages and a pavilion.

“However, the pavilion may not be part of Phase 1 if the city uses most of its funds,” added Young.

But while city officials don’t yet know how much the complex is going to cost, it will almost certainly cost more than has been allotted. 

The city has nearly $386,000 in an account specifically for the project, plus an additional $250,000 pledge from the Campbellsville Industrial Foundation. The city also received about $200,000 from selling property to Campbellsville University. Campbellsville City Attorney John Miller said they’re going to have crews do as much work as possible in order to save money.

Council member Mike Hall was enthusiastic for work to start soon. “Start turning dirt,” he said.

During the meeting, the city played a two-minute video describing what the complex would look like and what features they want it to have. The second phase would include four 250-foot fields, a concessions stand, restrooms, a playground, a parking lot, two batting cages, a maintenance building and a 1-mile walking path.

Young said he doesn’t know that everything on the video will be built in real life; he also floated the idea of asking businesses and industries to sponsor fields, dugouts and other facilities.

“We have a perfect spot near the (proposed) bypass,” said Council member Terry Keltner.

Unlike the ball fields at Miller Park and Trace Creek, the sports complex would be managed by a park manager who is a city employee; the city would maintain it. Young speculated that tournaments and concessions could pay for city employees to work at the park.

Of the 180 acres the city purchased, Young estimates that about 70 acres of that might be used for ball fields if they build both proposed quads. The city purchased that land six years ago, and during that time crops have been grown on it. Those crops have raised about $30,000 to $40,000 a year for the city.

“We’ve not spent any of that money,” said Young. “It’s gone straight into a savings account.”

Miller said that while they patterned their project after the sports complex in Elizabethtown, that city has a revenue source they don’t have access to: a two-percent restaurant tax.

Only fourth- and fifth-class cities had the option of a restaurant tax, but in recent years, Kentucky changed its classification of cities.

“Honestly, I’m not in support of a restaurant tax in our city,” Young said.

Former Campbellsville City Council member Stan McKinney stated that while he’s glad the sports complex is moving forward, he wants the county to contribute some to it.  He also lobbied for handicapped accessibility and wanted land set aside for gardens and trees.

Campbellsville resident Levi Richardson asked about the possibility of having a skate park on the sports complex premises. Young said it would be “challenging,” but he is open to the idea.

“I would love to establish another skate park in our community. However, the city has faced many challenges on establishing a new skate park. The first challenge with establishing another skate park is our insurance company,” said Young. “The city is limited on what can be furnished in the skate park. Also, maintenance, upkeep and funding to maintain the park is an issue.”

Miller hopes the complex will cement the city’s status as a regional hub.

• In other business, Council members voted unanimously to relinquish existing old easements and establish new ones for the planned Campbellsville Marketplace, to be located at the former Fruit of the Loom property.

Those easements were for water and sewer lines for the former plant. The Fruit of the Loom plant employed thousands until its closure 19 years ago.

According to Miller, Hogan Real Estate hasn’t yet closed on the property, but they will have to do so by the end of July at the latest. However, he believes it’s all but a done deal.

Magistrates on the Taylor County Fiscal Court voted in October to give the county’s easements to Hogan Real Estate.

In fall 2015, representatives from Hogan Real Estate, a Louisville based group, spoke with the City Council and Fiscal Court about plans to develop the former Fruit of the Loom site into a new shopping center, which would feature a Kroger Marketplace store.

The 40-acre site will feature a 123,000-square-foot Kroger store and other retail locations.

Young said he’ll update the council on the project’s progress.

• Young updated Council members on the city’s progress on illegal connections to the city’s sewer system. City officials blame stormwater entering the sewer system for the sewer overflows, an issue that became particularly contentious last year.

“We’re setting up checks … so that whenever an account is changed over, that (connections) will be inspected and verified,” said Young. “We have numerous infiltrations that are being found.”

With more rain, crews will be able to better measure flow within the sewer pipes to see where the stormwater is coming from.

• Council members Alexander Shively, Diane Ford-Benningfield, Sharon Hoskins-Sanders and Terry Keltner were appointed to a committee to study the city’s franchise agreement with Comcast, which expires in two months.

Council member David Nunery doesn’t believe the city has much leverage against Comcast.

“We’re just along for the ride at this point,” said Nunery.

Council member Patti Phillips said she’s heard several complaints about Comcast, which provides phone, Internet and cable.

Hall said a franchise agreement obligates Comcast to provide service all over the city, and added that Comcast owns all of the cable lines.

• Jeff Sprowles of Wise, Buckner & Sprowles gave an “unmodified” or “clean” audit report for the city, and cited no instances of non-compliance.

While Sprowles noted that the city’s pension liability jumped 25 percent to $8 million for the 2015/2016 fiscal year, it reflected poorly on the state government, not the city government.

“Don’t be alarmed, you had a good year,” said Sprowles.

However, Hall was concerned that if the Kentucky Retirement System goes bankrupt, the city will have to pay that $8 million. Sprowles said every government entity has seen similar increases.

“How is that sustainable,” asked Hall.

“It’s not,” replied Sprowles. He noted that the city’s revenues have increased more than its expenditures for the fiscal year, which ended on June 30, 2016. Council members unanimously approved the report.

• Patricia Sprowles and Frank Cheatham were appointed to three-year terms on the city’s ethics board.

• Young read a proclamation from State Sen. Max Wise (R-Campbellsville) commemorating the 200th anniversary of the founding of the city.

• All Council members were present, with the exception of Randy Herron.