Delegation from city views Sports Force complexes in Ohio

Published 7:04 pm Monday, August 14, 2017

A delegation of Vicksburg city officials spent Monday in Sandusky, Ohio, touring The Sport Force’s Cedar Point Sports Center, a multipurpose sports facility that is considered similar to a proposed complex for Vicksburg.

The Sports Force designed, built and operates the Sandusky park. The company has offered the same design in Vicksburg, and on Aug. 9 made a presentation to the city’s sports complex committee, which was appointed to oversee the design and construction of the complex. The Sandusky trip was planned before the company’s presentation.

The Sports Force performed a site and feasibility study for Vicksburg on locating a sports complex at city-owned property on Fisher Ferry Road.

The city’s delegation of Mayor George Flaggs Jr., South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour, parks and recreation director Joe Graves, City Attorney Nancy Thomas and Omar Nelson, sports complex advisory committee chairman, toured the complex Monday morning and also visited the city’s Castaway Waterpark, an indoor waterpark in the city.

“It is just what we need,” Flaggs said after the tour. “And the best part about it, they can design it, construct it and operate it. You can’t get any better than that. What we have to do is find out how we can finance it within the 2 percent tax (guidelines).”

Monsour, who is over the parks and recreation division, called the park’s layout fantastic.

“It’s well designed fields; the turf is really good. I think it would suit Vicksburg well. It’s (the park) designed to be good for tournament play, and also they’ve designed part of it to be for community development.”

He called The Sports Force “a very professional group; they’re very professional people. It’s a very good company and they represent the sport well.

“When we get back, we’re going to look at the situation and discuss it and make a decision and see where we’re going to go from there,” Monsour said.

According to an artist’s rendering of the project that was displayed when The Sports Force presented its feasibility report on the Fisher Ferry property, Vicksburg’s proposed sports complex features nine multi-use fields that can be used for soccer, baseball or softball; and championship fields for baseball, soccer and softball — all made of synthetic turf. The estimated project cost is $19 to $20 million.

The plan also showed a splash pad, ropes course, walking track and other recreation activities, including a miniature golf course. Some of those items are included at the company’s Sandusky park. If built according to the company’s plans, the city will have the only complex in the state with all synthetic turf fields.

If the city officials agree to go with The Sports Force, Flaggs said, the city will have 45 days to develop a contract and a plan “because it will take a year to build it.”

He said officials also plan to begin construction of an access road from Dana Road to the complex that will extend to Halls Ferry Road. The road is estimated to cost $10 million. “We’re going to get the road going at the same time,” he said. “It’s imperative that we do both at the same time, because we told the people we’re going to do it and we have every intention of doing it.”

The city in 2003 bought a 200-acre tract on Fisher Ferry Road for a sports complex for $325,000. City officials abandoned the project in 2009 after spending an additional $2.7 million for preliminary plans, engineering and dirt work.

At the time of its purchase, the Fisher Ferry project known in the city files as Champion Hill recreation complex, and Clear River Construction of Jackson had a $2.38 million contract to do dirt work in the property. The project was supposed to begin in January 2009 and end by November 2009. Clear Creek, however, stopped work in February 2009 because property was not staked out as promised. In May 2009, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a change order to revise plans to avoid wetlands area because Hatcher Bayou runs along property’s north boundary. The city had to pay $88,865.88 in damages for delay between February and May 4, 2009; the Contract price increased by $32,996.90 to $2,413,967.34 and the completion deadline extended by 92 days. In June 2009, the city got a Department of Environmental Quality wetlands permit, paid another penalty of $14,152.61, and extended the contract deadline by 57 more days to April 2010.

Work was later halted when the city had to divert money from the project to replacing the Washington Street Bridge over Kansas City Railroad tracks near what is now WaterView Casino.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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