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Bids have come in for three components of a master plan to improve and expand the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex.

Jason Haley — of A.L. Franks Engineering, who is designing the project — told complex board members Friday that bids for turf installation, lighting, fencing and grading are under review as engineers check qualifications and references for bidders and plan to speak with city officials about the matter.

Greg Harrison, chairman of the complex board and a member of the Union County Quorum Court, said bids were opened Thursday in City Hall.

Haley said the bids were competitive and came in at $1.8 million, a tally that engineers had anticipated.

Low bids were $561,150 for turf installation; $570,000 for LED lighting installation; and $698,665 for fencing and grading improvements, Haley reported.

The work is part of phase one of a two-phase master plan to upgrade and improve the complex in order to draw larger and more tournaments and generate more revenue for the facility.

The first phase includes the completion of two existing youth fields on the south end of the complex and the construction of two adjacent fields — all with restrooms, concession stands, breakrooms and Americans With Disabilities Act accessibility.

The concessions plaza will include a game room and coaches and umpires’ lounge.

Four youth soccer fields have also been incorporated into phase one of the master plan.

Other improvements include new fencing, turf fields, LED lights, poles, protective netting and a new batting cage for the four fields on the north end of the complex; renovation of the concession stand and restrooms in that area; and improvements for security and entry controls for the facility.

City officials approved $2.6 million from the El Dorado Works economic development tax to cover phase one of the project.

During a specially called meeting last month, complex board members agreed to bid the turf, lighting, and grading and fencing components to begin the work as soon as possible.

Ironing out the details

In the meantime, board members are ironing out the details of other components, namely available real estate for the soccer fields and a college baseball field that is included in phase two of the master plan.

In May, Haley told board members that engineers had to reduce the size of the soccer fields to fit into the available space in the southeast area of the complex.

The comments touched off a discussion in which complex board members asked Haley to tweak the conceptual design for the size of the soccer fields and agreed to speak with PotLatch Deltic about possibly selling land that is adjacent to the south end of the complex to expand the facility and accommodate the soccer fields and the college baseball field.

On Friday, Robert Edmonds, director of public works, said negotiations are still under way with PotLatch to potentially purchase 52 acres of land.

Harrison said talks could take another three to four weeks.

Haley suggested that the next step in the process is to prepare bid packages for the soccer fields.

The aim is to build four, 50- x 100-yard soccer fields for players 12 and under, adding that the project will require quite a bit of earthwork and grading, Haley said.

With lighting and electrical work, he said the estimated cost of the project could likely be $500,000.

Included in the design concept are 90 parking spaces.

“Phase two is about $4.5 million and $1.2 million of that is asphalt. That’s the last thing we want to look at. We want to get all the construction done first because of all the heavy trucks that will be coming in,” Harrison said.

Board members and Edmonds said gravel could be used as a short-term fix for the parking spaces.

An additional $400,000 has been budgeted for the new concession stand — an amount that would exceed the $2.6 million project budget.

Edmonds and Harrison noted that the board is applying for a state grant that, if awarded, could help with the costs to build the concession stand.

Harrison said the board should hear about the grant in late November or early December.

He then asked representatives from the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado — who is contracted with the city to manage the complex and serve as its concessionaire — if they could make do with a temporary concession stand for another playing season, if necessary.

“Yep. The snack shack is doing great,” said David Lee, executive director of the boys and girls club, who provided a portable concession stand to use on the south end of the complex until the project is completed.

Haley said there had been some concern about the need to upgrade or replace an existing lift station to accommodate additional facilities and activities at the complex.

“No, I think we’ll be fine. You’re only adding two bathrooms,” Edmonds said.

A new electrical service meter will also be required, Haley said. Harrison said there has been some consideration for low power-consumption items, such as vending machines, in the area.

Board member Stacy Scroggins recommended that board members wait until a decision has been reached about the purchase of additional land from PotLatch before moving forward with the bids for the soccer fields.

“That’s my gut feeling. Twenty years from now, I’d hate that we tried to save one season when we could have had the best layout we could,” Scroggins said.

The board approved a motion to that effect.

Complex board members have said they hope to complete phase one by the spring of 2020.

The board will next meet at noon July 12 in the second-floor conference room of City Hall.

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

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