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Complex board pursues funding for master plan

By Tia Lyons
This article was published January 13, 2018 at 5:00 a.m.

The El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex Board has outlined the steps it will take over the next several weeks to drum up support and help secure funding to continue work on a master renovation and expansion plan for the complex.

First, the board will meet with Perry Carr, vice president of the Little Rock-based ETC Engineers and Architects, said Greg Harrison, chairman of the complex board.

ETC is reviewing and tweaking the plan that was drafted in 2014 by CADM Architecture, Inc., of El Dorado.

The plan called for the completion of the two newest fields on the south end of the complex, additional fields and related facilities — restrooms, concession stand, etc. — and more parking space.

The plan was broken down into two phases, with a total budget estimate of $1.6 million.

ETC was involved in the construction of the two newest fields — a project that began in 1997 and took several years to get the fields into playing shape, on the south end of the complex.

Carr is expected to attend the complex board’s next regular meeting at noon on Feb. 2 in the second-floor conference room of City Hall.

The board plans to make presentations to the Union County Quorum Court, who contributes a portion of the complex’s annual operating budget, along with the city of El Dorado.

The two entities used share expenses pro rata, but in 2016, the Quorum Court decided to pay a flat, annual rate and cease its assistance in covering any budget overages.

At the time, complex board members noted that the annual budget, specifically the county’s contribution, had decreased each year since 2014.

“We definitely need to get the quorum court on board first,” Harrison said.

He said the plan presented by Carr will be taken to the quorum court’s regular monthly meeting at 10 a.m. on February 15 on the third floor of the Union County Courthouse.

Harrison said he hopes that with the revised plan from ETC, the quorum court, on which he also serves, will “see that it’s economically feasible and attractive enough to fund it.”

A report from the Diamond Agency, the complex’s ad agency of record, outlined a plan to try and obtain sponsorships that could mean $27,000 in revenue for the complex, including new signage at the entrance of the facility.

“That’s $27,000 without any additional expenses on our end,” Harrison said, saying that creating a new revenue source could help improve the group’s chances with the quorum court.

He said the complex board will then turn toward the El Dorado Works Board with a funding request.

The EWB administers the city’s one-cent sales tax for economic development.

Within the framework of the temporary tax — which went into effect on 2015 and is expected to generate $50 million, conservatively, over 10 years —, 5 percent is dedicated to parks, playgrounds, and sports and recreational facilities.

Harrison said that comes to about $50,000 a year, and board member Stacy Scroggins said the amount has to be divvied up among other city parks.

“But we’re going to need more than that,” Harrison said.

Scroggins asked if the board would make a similar presentation to the El Dorado City Council, as with the quorum court.

Harrison said that if the funding request is approved by the EWB, the EWB would take it to the city council for final approval.

In 2016, the city approved $185,000 from the tax to pair with a matching grant from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism to install electricity and lights to the new fields.

The project was completed last year.

Harrison also asked board members their thoughts on a possible bond issue to complete the improvement project. Board members said they would have to study the matter further.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or by email at tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.

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