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Commission set to OK $16 million in recreation projects - Dothan Eagle: News

Commission set to OK $16 million in recreation projects

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Posted: Monday, August 4, 2014 3:58 pm

The Dothan City Commission is expected to take steps Tuesday to fund the construction of two pools and a new recreation park totaling about $16 million.

The bulk of the money used to construct a recreation pool at Andrew Belle Center, a wellness pool at Westgate Park and Jim Oates Park in southwest Dothan will come from money held in reserve. The commission is also expected to approve a $500,000 grant from the Wiregrass Foundation for the Andrew Belle pool and a $2 million pledge from the Dothan Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to offset Jim Oates Park construction costs.

If approved, construction will first begin on Jim Oates Park, likely by October. City officials would like to have construction of the six-field youth baseball complex and six-field youth softball complex to be completed in time to bid for large youth tournaments in 2016.

The City of Dothan has $6.025 million specifically reserved for recreation projects. That leaves an unfunded balance of $7.389 million to cover construction, which will come from undesignated city reserves.

The $500,000 Wiregrass Foundation grant for Andrew Belle Pool is contingent on the pool construction being under contract by the end of the year. Construction on the Westgate Wellness Pool would likely begin in February.

It will cost between $500,000 and $800,000 to staff and maintain the three new facilities. District 6 Commissioner Hamp Baxley said he wants the city to create a reserve fund to set aside money for facility maintenance.

“When we build facilities, there is no question that things like parking lots, roofs, air conditioner units will eventually require replacement. I believe we have the ability to make ordinary repairs and maintenance within the general services budget, but these permanent improvements need to be budgeted over the lifespan of the improvements so that we ensure we have funds available to fix the problems when they come due,” Baxley said.

An increase in lodging tax has also been mentioned as a way to mitigate costs. Dothan Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Bob Hendrix also said tournament fees charged to participating teams could help offset some of the costs.

Below is a recap of projects expected to be approved Tuesday:

   » Jim Oates Park: Phase 1 of the park in southwest Dothan will consist of six youth baseball fields and six youth softball fields along with a few other amenities. The estimated cost of construction is $11.5 million.

   » Westgate Center Wellness Pool: The warm water pool will host aquacise classes and accommodate special needs patrons as well. It will be an extension on the south side of the current Westgate Recreation Center. Estimated cost of construction is $3.085 million.

   » Andrew Belle Recreational Pool: The pool will be located off Bayshore Avenue, near where a recreational pool was previously located at Lincoln Center. The pool has been closed there since 2001. Estimated cost of construction is $1.3 million.

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