City may postpone creating Master Plan for acreage at Owens Complex
City officials may use funds set aside for Master Plan to fund other recreation projects
City officials are considering postponing creating a Master Plan for the 36 acres of unused land at the J.B. “Red” Owens Complex.
The proposed 2012-2013 budget contains $350,000 in capital projects funding, including funds that could be allocated to funding such a master plan, but recreation committee members said on Thursday that it might be better to postpone the master plan and focus on other issues related to city parks.
Committee members were concerned about the length of the process.
Committee chairman Councilman Brian Garrison said he'd had second thoughts about moving forward with the plan in the 2012-2013 fiscal year
“You have to send out an RFP, get bids back, choose a firm,” Garrison said. “My point is, it's a long process. You're looking at a year or two before you get results back, or get the plan back.”
He asked committee members if they felt the plan was a priority or if the funds could be better spent elsewhere.
“We have our football field back in the back that hasn't been developed,” Garrison said. “We're looking at possibly starting a lacrosse program. We do know that we're going to need more fields for the future.”
Committee members said unknown factors are complicating the matter, including if the city will have an opportunity to purchase Brice Field from the school district.
School board chairman Alex Saitta has previously said he'd like to sell the Brice Field property, but other board members said they would like to see the field retained for use by the middle school when it moves to the current high school site.
Those master plan funds could help with sprucing up the parks as well, or with the Brushy Creek Greenway project, a biking walking/trail that will link the new Easley High School to downtown Easley, Garrison said.
“Our original Parks and Recreation Master Plan states that we don't have enough greenways and trails in Easley,” he said.
Councilman Chris Mann said postponing the master plan for the 36 acres is “not a bad thing.”
“Is there an urgent need to get started on that property right now?” Mann said.
Parks and Recreation Department Director Gregg Powell said postponing the plan for the acreage would not be a bad move – provided the city's sports programs do not see tremendous growth.
“If the flag football, soccer, men's softball and Little League baseball was to grow … having to find enough practices for everybody … it's real difficult,” Powell said. If we were to have, one fall or spring, 20 more teams, we'd be in a real bind.”
Mann said he didn't think the programs would grow so rapidly as to create an immediate program.
Tournament Coordinator Scott Price said national trends suggest that more kids are choosing smaller, sports over baseball and soccer.
“Everybody's going to these niche sports,” he said. “That's the trend you're seeing, not only with tournaments but everywhere else.”
Price said the funds could be used to address “short-term needs.”
“It's like don't add on to your house if your kitchen leaks,” he said.
“Don't just continue to grow at the expense of your current program,” he said. “Let's care of what we've got now before we look at what we can do to continue growing. We can get too big.”
Mann suggested the money could be used for smaller projects, such as placing fans or misters in dugouts.
City Administrator Fox Simons said the money could be kept in the budget, but reallocated to other recreation projects and issues.