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story.lead_photo.caption Play has restarted at the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex, and the Complex Board is hoping to continue an expansion project at the Rec Complex, which has stalled due to cost overruns. They plan to appear before the Advertising and promotion Commission this week with a funding request. (Tony Burns/News-Times)

The El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex Board is continuing to seek out funding to complete the first phase of a major renovation and expansion of the facility on Champagnolle Road.

During a Board meeting Friday, chairman Greg Harrison said the group has been added to the agenda for the August meeting of the El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission.

Harrison said the Board will present a funding request to the A&P Commission to help finish phase one of Complex improvements.

The two-phase project includes the first major upgrades and improvements that have been undertaken at the Complex since it was built in the mid-1980s.

The facility includes eight softball and baseball fields, two pavilions, two small children’s playgrounds and RV sites.

The first phase of the master improvement plan got under way last year and has largely been completed.

The work entailed the completion of two existing youth baseball and softball fields, the construction of two new youth fields on the south end of the complex and the installation of turf, lighting and fencing on four older fields on the north end of the facility.

The project is being covered by $2.6 million from the El Dorado Works tax, which is earmarked for economic development, municipal infrastructure and quality-of-life projects.

The remainder of phase one calls for a new concessions plaza and two new youth soccer fields to accommodate the ever-growing popularity of the sport in South Arkansas.

Both facilities will also be built on the south end of the Complex.

Engineering plans have been approved and bids recommended and certified for the soccer fields and concessions plaza, which will include a concessions area, changing rooms for umpires, public restrooms and an office for the complex manager, the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado.

Diversified Construction and Design submitted the low bid of $671,824 for the soccer fields and the low bid for the concessions plaza came in at $343,989 from Milam Construction.

Funding for the projects have hit a snag.

Complex Board members previously said approximately $400,000 remains in the project budget, explaining that unanticipated engineering costs took a part of the balance.

During an El Dorado Works Board meeting July 14, Jason Haley, of A.L. Franks Engineering Inc., who is designing and overseeing phase one, told board members that costs for construction, engineering and final inspection fees came to $2.09 million.

Haley also the EWB that the nearly $700,000 proposal for the soccer fields is a base bid and the bid package came with a deductive bid of $581,000, which would exclude parking lot improvements near the site where the fields will be built.

Robert Edmonds, director of public works, said the city will fold the parking lot improvements into its 2020 street repaving and drainage improvement program, a move that will save tens of thousands of dollars.

EWB members agreed with Edmonds, who said completing the soccer fields should be prioritized over the concessions plaza.

Greg Downum, chairman of the EWB, said the board will consider a request for more funding after additional information and a final cost estimate, including utility work, is presented for the completion of phase one.

In the meantime, Harrison said the Complex Board will look to the A&P Commission, who has discussed providing financial assistance for the Complex project.

The work falls under the authorized uses for revenue that is collected by the A&P. The Commission’s income is generated by a 3% lodging tax.

A&P Commissioners have scheduled their next regular meeting for 2 p.m. Aug. 6. The location of the meeting has not yet been determined.

Phase two of the master plan includes a new baseball field for older teens and college players and major improvements to the parking lot at the Complex.

The Complex Board is also looking into routine maintenance issues at the Complex, including outfield windscreens in fields 1 - 4 on the north end of the Complex.

In an email last week, Board member Phillip Lansdell notified other members that he would be unable to attend their regular meeting Friday and he advised them about the issue with the windscreens, which are loose and susceptible to wind damage.

Lansdell noted that the screen on Field 2 has already been ripped at the bottom.

The problem was clearly visible Friday as the Complex Board held its meeting outdoors in the Dumas Pavilion during a thunderstorm that brought heavy rains and high winds.

Harrison said he had spoken with Haley about the issue and inquired about a warranty, noting that the screens are less than a year old.

“The windscreens that were installed, they’re supposed to have a small little circle with a piece of metal in the middle, kind of like a hole punch, so that they won’t rip,” Harrison explained.

“Instead of having those little punches, they poked a hole in it and used zip-ties and it wears out quicker, especially when we have weather like this,” he added. “You don’t want anyone out there playing with those windscreens flapping around.”

Board member Chris Nale used his cellphone to take a video recording of the winds violently whipping the screens about and asked Harrison to send the recording to Haley.

Board members also said they wanted to address an issue with water pooling up at and flooding the entrance to the field area.

Pointing to weather conditions Friday, Harrison noted that new turf that was installed on the fields would help with a girls’ softball tournament that was scheduled to begin at the Complex Saturday, saying that the turf is designed to dry quickly in the event of a downpour.

“Once the rain stops, in about 15 minutes, they should be ready to play,” he said.

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