City mulling $272,000 improvements to sports complex

Billy Cannada Staff Writer

October 11, 2013

EASLEY – Construction on a new facility that would bring bathrooms and a press box to the soccer fields at the J.B. “Red” Owens Complex in Easley could soon begin if approved by Easley City Council next week.

Plans are in the works to erect the new building at the lower soccer fields between fields “C” and “D.”

The total costs for the project could be in the $272,000 range, city officials say.

“(The J.B. Owens Complex) is 15 years old and there’s just stuff you have to do,” Simons said. “It gets used a lot. Our numbers are increasing and there are just things you have to do to accommodate the growth.”

The Parks and Recreation Committee will recommend that council accepts a bid from Phillips Brothers totaling $272,000 on Monday.

“Right now we have one bathroom at Field A, but that’s a long haul,” Simons said. “This is a situation that needs to be addressed.”

“Hopefully there will be some adjustments we can make to get that price down a little bit,” Simons said. “We’re going to manage it as we go and we’re going to work like the dickens to keep it as close to $272,000 as we can.”

The soccer program at the Easley Rec currently boasts about 400 participants, according to Simons. The administrator said the addition of these bathrooms will provide more options for the department.

“We wanted to try to increase the number of tournaments we can do to better utilize those fields,” Simons said. “One of the drawbacks that prevented us from doing that has been a facility. This will allow us to put up scoreboards and do the other things we need to do to make it more accommodating.”

Funds for the project will come from the city’s hospitality tax, which has funded several projects in the past.

“The hospitality tax has been a very important piece of our financial situation as a city. It has done a lot,” Simons said. “We rely on it a lot. It’s strong and healthy.”

“It’s what we used to buy the Doodle Line, and we’re using it to fund our match for the Brushy Creek Greenway,” Simons explained. “It has provided for enhancements at (the J.B. Owens Complex) and even paid for the (Larry Bagwell Gymnasium. It’s been a very significant positive tool for the city.”

Simons said the latest plans for improvement at the J.B. Owens Complex are in a long line of things that the city would like to have done in local recreational parks.

“We need to make improvements to all of our parks,” Simons said. “We’re doing renovations at Pope Field right now as well. We’ve put a dog park and some new playground equipment in Hagood Park and did some other stuff around our city as well.

Simons said, if approved, the city hopes to have the project completed by April of 2014.