By Kim Odom, Lakeland Senior Center (LSB) manager
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (P&R) met for its monthly meeting yesterday (9.13.17) at City Hall.
New Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Rooney updated Board members on the progress of park maintenance and current recreation and sports programs. He also announced the upcoming LAMP concert Sept. 23 featuring Seeing Red and Lakeland Homecoming.
An update on activities at the LSB was presented including the possibility of forming a new quilting group and plans to add Game Show Night and Karaoke to the schedule this fall.
The main topic of the meeting was discussion on the athletic complex – phase I and possible partnership with Lakeland School System to use the LMPS’s sports fields upon completion next summer (Lakeland Middle Preparatory School).
Jim Atkinson, city manager, discussed the P&R’s current Vision Plan for the Parks and Recreation’s Athletic Complex: 100-acres located on Memphis-Arlington Road and suggested that the Board members may want to review Phase I plans after hearing an update on the LMPS facility presented by guest speaker Kevin Floyd, chairman of the Lakeland School Board (LSB).
Mr. Floyd explained that the school’s construction expenses came in $3.5 million under budget, and that those funds must be spent on the campus. He announced the funds will be used to develop the sports fields on the school’s campus. Floyd indicated that a lighted baseball, softball, football, and soccer field, along with an unlit practice field, will soon be under way and should be completed in June 2018. The project goes to bid in November. Estimated cost of the total project is $4.2 million. The additional funds needed for the completion of school’s athletic fields will come from City’s reserves earmarked specifically for school capital projects.
Mr. Floyd explained how a partnership with the City on usage of the school’s future athletic fields could benefit the Parks and Recreation’s youth sports programs until the Park’s new Athletic Complex develops into what they want it to be. He estimated that Parks and Recreation could most likely use the fields for three years without any conflict with the school’s programs.
He explained that additional funds needed to complete the school’s fields in no way involves funds for Parks and Recreation or its new Athletic Complex that will be built in phases. He stated that there would be some shared cost with the city and would require an agreement between the city and the school system that will help offset maintenance expenses for the fields.
Mr. Atkinson followed up by noting that the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board can now take into account what the school is offering and make confident decisions in the amenities it wants in Phase I of the athletic complex.
The P&R Board will continue discussion on the future plans for the Parks and Recreation’s Athletic Complex Phase I during the next meeting Oct. 10.