KEARNEY — Complete plans for a youth softball and baseball complex were made public Tuesday night, just more than one year after Kearney voters OK’d a restaurant tax to fund the project.
The plans were presented to the Kearney City Council at its regular meeting.
“I’m very excited about the direction we’ve gone,” council member Randy Buschkoetter said. He was on the committee to design the facility. “I think with all the compromises, this is the best bang for our buck we can get. … It’s going to be the best complex of its type in the Midwest.”
Eric Casper of The Clark Enersen Partners firm in Lincoln presented the plans to the council.
The youth complex will be on the eastern half of the 140 acres that the city owns at 56th Street and Cherry Avenue, south of the future Central Nebraska Veterans’ Home. The tract of land is called Patriot Park.
A committee including Kearney Park and Recreation Director Scott Hayden, Buschkoetter and council member Bob Lammers met several times per month on the project.
The area will have four youth baseball fields and four youth softball fields. Two of those fields will serve as championship fields, which mean they have additional seating, a press box, an inning-by-inning scoreboard and public address capabilities.
All of the fields will be lighted.
The plans have a reserved space for a Challenger baseball field and a playground to be constructed in the future. Challenger baseball is a division of Kearney Little League for athletes with disabilities. A specially designed field would have a smooth surface and other inclusive amenities. Currently, Challenger baseball games are played at West Lincolnway Park.
The baseball fields will be north of the softball fields. Between the two areas will sit an 11,000-square-foot-building that will house concessions, indoor softball and baseball batting cages, an official’s room and some mechanical spaces.
The park’s main maintenance building is an existing site to the east of the complex. The building is larger than the facility to serve Memorial Park, Hayden said.
The main entrance to the complex will be from 56th Street. There will be more than 400 parking stalls for the complex and room to add more.
The project will cost $7.5 million. Casper said he anticipates receiving many bids for companies wishing to construct the facility.
The council approved an ordinance to fund the construction. The city will fund debt service on $3.5 million in bonds issued in 2015, Bruce Lefler of Ameritas Investment said. In 2016, the city will issue the remaining $4 million in bonds.
Mike Koski, who was on the committee to approve the occupation tax and design the complex, said he’s pleased with how the plans turned out.
“I think it looks nice,” he said. “We needed more fields.”