Sports activity may be winding down at the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex, but other activity is just starting to amp up.
The facility will get some much needed freshening up in the remaining months of the year, thanks to several votes that have been taken recently by the complex board of directors.
The bulk of baseball and softball play are over for the year at the complex, with a few games and tournaments on the schedule through October.
The Champagnolle Road facility is still busy, however, with soccer and Pee Wee football practices.
Requests to book the two pavilions for events at the complex are also robust, reported David Lee, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado.
The club has a contract for services with the city to manage the complex.
Complex board members and employees are also gearing up for a new rental venture in which the facility will be used as a paid parking site for the Murphy Arts District, which is scheduled to launch later this month in Downtown El Dorado.
As is typical for this time of year, complex board members and employees have their sights trained on maintenance and improvement projects.
However, this year, those projects will extend beyond routine work.
On Friday, board members picked up a previous discussion in which they presented ideas on how to spend the remainder of the 2017 complex budget.
During a board meeting on Sept. 1, board chairman and Union County Quorum Court member Greg Harrison said at least $8,137.50 was available for the last five months of the year.
Based on the full 12 months of 2017, the maximum amount could be $19,530, Harrison said.
He asked board members then to think about how money could best be utilized and to return with recommendations.
Board members did just that on Friday, and after some discussion, they approved expenditures for several projects.
In addition to the purchase of Alabama topsoil that was approved on Sept. 1, board members agreed to a cost estimate of $5,500 to replace the roofs of eight dugouts on the four north fields.
Dianne Hammond, vice-chairman of the complex board and a member of the El Dorado City Council, said a company in Malvern had provided the estimate for the materials — insulated roofing panels — that come with a lifetime guarantee.
She also said the El Dorado Department of Public Works has agreed to pitch in to install the framework to help make the roofs more sturdy.
Board members have said the roofs have become worn, mostly due to children climbing atop them.
“No matter what, kids are going to get up there, but these will last a lifetime. You don’t have to worry about rotting,” Hammond said.
Board member Keith Smith inquired about the color of the roofing material, and Hammond said she would check on the colors that are available.
“Or we can paint them,” she said.
The board approved the cost estimate, acknowledging the additional expense to the city for setting the framework.
Hammond said advertising space could be sold on the new roofs to bring in more revenue to the complex.
The board also agreed to add a roof to a small gazebo behind the concession stand near Field 3 on the north end of the complex.
“People sit there, and it doesn’t have a roof. You can’t sit in it if it rains, so it would be nice to get that fixed and make the complex look better,” Harrison said.
Mayor Frank Hash said the city is working to salvage materials from the old Babe Ruth field at South Arkansas Regional Airport at Goodwin Field.
The city recently decommissioned the field, also commonly known as the “airport field,” noting its declining use.
The field was used for play in the local Babe Ruth youth baseball league.
City officials have said that league participants can use available space at the recreation complex, adding that future plans for expansion at the complex call for an additional youth baseball field for 15- to 18-year-old players.
Materials from the old Babe Ruth field, such as fencing and lighting, could be used at the complex, Hash said.
“We’ll get to it once all this MAD stuff settles down,” Hash said.
Complex board member Will Crowder, who also serves on the quorum court, said he spoke with a timber service who agreed to clear some trees from the complex at no cost.
The group is looking to remove a few trees near the former playground area just west of the Dumas Pavilion.
Board members have said the tree-thinning would take out four or five trees in the area and open up more space for parking.
As part of the master improvement and expansion plan for the complex, additional parking and the new baseball field are specified for the area south of the Dumas Pavilion.
A communications tower was removed from the spot last year, allowing space for the new amenities.
Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@ eldoradonews .com.