Archived Story

Annual upkeep of sports complex could reach $30K

Published 5:06pm Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Baseball fields? Softball fields? Soccer fields? A combination of the three?

Niles City officials want to know what you’d like to see at the proposed sports complex at the former Tyler Refrigeration Company property in Niles.

However, what is built in the pay-for-play sports complex must generate enough revenue to support its upkeep.

Niles City Administrator Ric Huff said it would cost between $15,000 and $30,000 to maintain the sports complex each year, depending on what is built.

If three softball fields, two baseball fields and two soccer fields were built, the annual maintenance would be closer to $30,000.

If just three softball fields were built, the cost would be around $15,000 annually.

Huff reiterated Tuesday what he said Monday — the city doesn’t intend to spend any taxpayer money on the complex, ever.

“For one thing, we can’t afford it … and it wouldn’t be proper of us to ask taxpayers to invest in something they really don’t own,” Huff said.

Carrier Corporation — the parent company of former Tyler Refrigeration and the landowner — has agreed to fund a portion of the construction cost. How much, remains to be announced.

Huff again declined Tuesday to say how much had been promised, citing Carrier’s request for privacy.

Carrier would not say the amount either Tuesday, instead releasing this statement: “The project is still in the early planning stages, but we’re happy to work with the City of Niles to turn a site, that otherwise would not have been used, into ball fields or other recreational facilities for the children of Niles to enjoy for years to come,” said Michelle Caldwell, Carrier manager of communications.

Dan Yerks, of Wightman & Associates — the engineering firm that drew the initial design of the sports complex — said he did not know how much money had been set aside by Carrier for Niles. He also said it is too soon to estimate how much it would cost to build a single field — soccer, baseball or softball.

Huff said he believes a sports complex containing adult-sized softball fields would be able to support itself financially.

“The fields that are being used to their full capacity would easily generate the revenue we need. The unknown question is will we be able to recruit them to their full capacity?” Huff said. “That is a real unknown.”

Huff said the final design is up to the engineers, who are taking into consideration several factors, including cost and input from residents, city staff and city council.

“They are going to determine what the desired outcome is and figure out the best way to get there,” Huff said.

The city’s parks department would have complete oversight over the sports complex, from maintenance to operation to supervision.

Engineers are still finalizing the design. Once finished, it will go before the park board and, eventually, the city council for approval.

Those wishing to voice their opinions on the proposed sports complex are encouraged to call Niles City Hall administration at (269) 683-4700 ext. 3011.

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