Lepanto City Council looks at sports complex proposal

Thursday, August 24, 2006

After quickly going through the minutes, financial and other reports they normally do each month, the Lepanto City Council turned to the only other order of new business for the day, the proposed sports park for the city.

Perry Carr of ETC Engineers in Little Rock presented a proposal of the park which, if approved by the voters of the city, will be situated across the highway from the Sonic in Lepanto.

"This will be a multi-purpose complex," Carr said while pointing to various areas on a chart which diagramed the layout. "It will have two regulation baseball fields which can be converted to three fields if necessary for children or softball."

The layout of the complex is similar to those ETC has designed in Bryant and Paragould but on a smaller scale.

The total cost of the complex would be some $ 1.8 million which would be paid in a 20-year note. The note would be paid by an increase in the city's sales tax of 3/4 cent from the present level. That increase along with the 1/2 cent tax approved for construction of the fire department, which is about to expire, would be sufficient to pay for the project.

"We want to keep the sales tax at 9 cents or under," Mayor Dale Dunlap said.

When asked about what the property would cost, he said he didn't know, but said there was some discussion that it might be donated.

Dunlap also said that the work needed on the streets had also been considered, and it was felt that the sports complex could be done even with the cost of the street repairs.

When asked if through concessions, entry fees and rentals, the complex could in essence pay for itself, Carr said it was possible, but it would be more realistic that such income would contribute to paying off the note enough to shorten the payback time to 12 or 13 years.

With regard to the question, he promised to get back to the council with information concerning how other cities did in this area.

"What I'll do is get with the investment company which will handle this," Carr continued. "They will do an overview and we can get it down to the penny what all the costs will be. Then we can also set the note date."

Carr said his company spent six to seven months in Bryant working with the people there when they built their sports facility.

While all the council seemed to be in agreement with the need for a complex of this sort, they were concerned that the citizens of Lepanto might not see enough need for it to vote further tax increases, even the proposed 3/4 cent.

Carr said he could help in this area by providing as many additional layouts to put in area business as possible.

"I can get another 24 or so layouts to put around the city," Carr said.

Concluding his comments, Carr and the council agreed that the best time for a vote on the matter would be sometime in January or February 2007 to allow time for discussion and public meetings on the proposal.

The only other order of business was the purchase of a sewer pump which had been discussed over the previous two months.

"It will cost $11,500." Dunlap said. "Which puts it under the amount were we need to take bids."

This price didn't include wiring, Dunlap added.

"So that will put it at about $13,000 with wiring, taxes and everything else," councilman Charles Farley commented.

"Right," Dunlap said then added. "Personally I think it would be worthwhile."

With no more discussion, the council approved the purchase unanimously.

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