A project to install two kiosks that will be used as concession stands at the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex could be completed by the end of the year.
Work is under way to install the concrete foundational pads for the kiosks, which have been donated by Murphy USA and will serve the four baseball and softball fields and two new soccer fields on the south end of the complex.
The kiosks are part of phase one of a two-pronged master plan to renovate and expand the complex.
Phase one, which is nearing completion, also includes two new baseball and softball fields and the completion of two existing baseball and softball fields, all on the south end of the complex, and the installation of new turf, lighting and fencing on four older fields on the north side of the facility.
The project is largely funded by a $2.7 million commitment from the El Dorado Works tax, a one-cent, city sales tax initiative that is geared toward economic development, infrastructure and quality-of-life projects.
Work on phase one got underway in 2019 and has largely been completed.
In the summer of 2020, the El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission kicked in an additional $257,000 to help finish work on the soccer fields after an unanticipated engineering expense created a shortfall in the $2.7 million budget.
Members of the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex board of directors and complex manager the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado were hoping the fields would be ready for play this fall.
Bermuda grass is growing on the new fields, which are southeast of the Dumas Pavilion, but due to a delay in the delivery of the plantings and a late start in the growing season, the soccer fields may not see any action until spring.
In the meantime, board members are working with the city of El Dorado, Union County and Murphy USA to move ahead with the installation of the kiosks.
The initial design concept for phase one of the master plan one included a concessions plaza that would serve the south fields.
The design included a concession stand, outdoor dining area, restrooms, water fountains, coaches/umpires' lounge and changing rooms and office space for the complex manager.
But after considerable discussion about logistics, the availability of space for the plaza and a $343,989 price tag, complex board members whittled down the features of the building and eventually scrapped the idea altogether.
Board members continued to explore options for a concession stand and additional restrooms and the idea of kiosks -- small, pre-fabricated buildings that can be used for commercial purposes -- was introduced as a suggestion.
Noting that Murphy USA uses kiosks at many of its convenience store/gas station locations across the country, complex board members agreed to reach out to the company on a fact-finding mission to gather information, such as costs, about kiosks.
MUSA responded with an unexpected offer: the donation of two used kiosks to the complex.
The city of El Dorado agreed to take care of the installation, while Union County committed to arrange and cover the costs to transport the kiosks from Atlanta, Georgia to Union County.
Updates on the project have been announced at several recent public meetings, including the El Dorado City Council, A&P commission, complex board and the El Dorado Water and Public Works Board.
To help install the kiosks, the A&P commission voted Oct. 6 to redirect the balance of funds remaining from the $257,000 that had been allocated for the soccer fields.
Commissioners also agreed to increase the allotment by $14,800.
Commissioner Paul Choate, who serves as treasurer of the commission and is a member of the city council, explained that in-house, accounts payable mix-ups resulted in nearly $200,000 worth of invoices being charged to the El Dorado Works Board budget, rather than the A&P budget, for work that was done on the soccer fields.
Choate said the errors were discovered during a months-long effort by accounting firm Emrich and Scroggins, LLP, to clean up the city's financial records in order for the city council to finalize the fiscal year 2020 budget and adopt the 2021 city budget, which was approved in August.
"We owe the (El Dorado Works Board) $199,915.74. We allocated $257,000," Choate told his fellow A&P commissioners Oct. 6.
Choate then noted MUSA's donation of the kiosks, saying that a work-order change to install the structures had come in at $71,891, which will cover construction of the concrete foundation and plumbing and electrical hook-ups.
Diversified Construction and Design, LLC, is the contractor for the project.
The costs of installing the kiosks were initially estimated at $50,000 - $60,000.
Robert Edmonds, director of public works for the city of El Dorado, previously said the costs could be higher.
Greg Harrison, chairman of the complex board of directors, said construction/building costs have climbed in the months it took for Emrich and Scroggins to iron out the city's books and uncover the accounting errors regarding the soccer fields.
Once the A&P commission pays the nearly $200,000 it owes the EWB, $57,084 will remain from the $257,000 that was allotted for the soccer fields.
The balance will be coupled with an additional $14,807 to fund the $71,891 kiosk project.
Union County is working with the city to coordinate the delivery and installation of the kiosks. The city and county both contribute to the complex's annual $200,000-plus budget.
Complex board members and city and county officials have said that a crane will have to be used to lift and place the kiosks on their concrete bases.
Citing the cost of the crane rental, officials have said they want to synchronize the kiosk delivery and installation so the crane will have to be rented only for a day.
Edmonds said one of the concrete foundational slabs has been laid and crews could begin work on the second slab this week.
"If not, then next week," he said.
Edmonds and Harrison have said that a portable building that belonged to the BGCE and had been used as a temporary concession stand -- the club also serves as the concessionaire in a contract with the complex that is separate from the management contract with the city -- had to be removed to make way for the installation of the kiosks.
Edmonds said that Union County Judge Mike Loftin will pull the trigger on the delivery of the kiosks once the concrete slabs have been laid, noting that the job could be wrapped by the end of next week, weather permitting.
Edmonds also said the he expects the project to remain within budget.
Other components of the master plan
Complex board members are also continuing to look into options for additional restrooms on the south end of the facility.
They have said that the kiosks will come with a total of three restrooms that may also be used as first-aid stations.
An existing restroom facility that is adjacent to the Dumas Pavilion has eight stalls -- four each for separate men and women's quarters -- and Harrison said there have been discussions to expand the facility with additional stalls.
Complex board members agreed earlier this year to hold off on plans for phase two of the renovation and expansion project for the complex in order to assess how phase one projects will impact complex operations.
The second phase calls for a baseball field for older teens and adults, a recreational trail that will encircle the complex and parking lot expansion and improvements.