Litchfield Holds Meeting on Sports Complex
Fri, 02 Aug 2019 08:47:29 CDT
“Litchfield is on the move.”
That was the sentiment expressed by local business owner Ed Wernsing during a public informational meeting on Thursday where details were released about a potential new sports complex on the city's west side. A conceptual design was on display for public viewing, while city officials and members of the organization Impact Soccer were on hand to answer questions. The site chosen for the complex is on Corvette Drive near Interstate 55.
The plan, as of now, is to have eight natural grass soccer fields, a half-mile walking trail, a storage building, a dry concession stand, restrooms and a 90-space parking lot. A possible second phase of the project would include two baseball fields and a gazebo for shade.
Moving forward with the project is based entirely upon receiving a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) program. City Administrator Tonya Flannery said that if the grant is denied, there will be little consideration in moving forward for the time being.
The city has until August 19, to submit the grant application. They will be requesting the maximum amount of $400,000. The total cost of the project, Flannery said, is expected to be $2 million to $3 million dollars, which would include the cost of purchasing the land. She also said additional funds could come from Tax Increment Financing (TIF) dollars, but no money from the city's general tax fund would be used.
The complex would be owned by the city but maintained and operated by Impact Soccer. Mark Bloome with the Litchfield Youth Soccer Association said he would love for his organization to be involved as well. Flannery encouraged the two organizations to meet and make arrangements. Others in attendance expressed their excitement as well.
"I think this would be great for the community," Mike Fleming said before offering a few adjustments to the design. "It would be nice to have a walking path between each field, as well as an area for spectators." The path, he said, would be preferable to having people walk through the grass.
Wernsing said the project would benefit local businesses, citing the amount of teams that travel from different areas to attend soccer tournaments. He said Litchfield has "a bunch of hotel rooms that could be full" multiple weekends out of the year while tournaments are being hosted at the new site. Impact itself has teams that travel to the Quad Cities, Indianapolis and Terre Haute, among other places.
The meeting concluded after 30 minutes with many in the room radiating optimism and excitement. After the application is submitted, there will be a six to eight month review period conducted by the IDNR.
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