CARL JUNCTION, Mo. —
A $3.5 million sports complex being discussed by Carl Junction city officials was put on hold Tuesday night as costs grew.
Alderman Bob Cook said that when he launched the idea more than a year ago, it began as a small baseball and softball complex.
But it grew to the point that the baseball and softball fields would cost about $2.5 million, and an additional $1 million would be spent on tennis courts, disc golf, hiking trails and street improvements for roads that would lead there. A conceptual plan was drawn up by Allgeier Martin and Associates in Joplin and presented to members of the board Tuesday. No specific site was identified and no land was acquired for the project.
“The initial estimate was a little over a million dollars,” Cook said. “I think we went a little bit overboard.”
Funding for the $3.5 million complex was to come from a 34-cent increase in property taxes, raising it from 88.5 cents to $1.22.5 per $100 of assessed valuation. The would equate to an increase of $78 for the owner of a $120,000 house in Carl Junction, which City Administrator Steve Lawver said is the median value of homes in the community.
City officials were discussing language for the April ballot when they put the project on hold.
There are now five baseball fields in Carl Junction, said Lawver, but they are dated and flood every spring.
“We would replace that with a better facility in a more central location,” Lawver said. “Right now, you have to go through a residential area to get to it.”
The city also is looking at school district needs as it considers a complex.
Lawver said about three years ago, the school started a tennis team, but students have to go to Joplin for practice and tournaments because existing courts need to be replaced, and there are not enough of them.
Cook said Tuesday he’s “all for a complex, but added that the tax increase was too much to ask of voters.
“I, personally, think we ought to go back to our original thought: To start small,” Cook said. “We’re a small town. We can’t afford to hire more people to take care of the complex, which we’re gonna have to do.”
Alderman Tim Smith said Tuesday he was in agreement with Cook.
“I’m also worried about us going to the expense to put it on a ballet and not passing,” Smith said.
Alderman Mark Power said the city needs to take care of its existing infrastructure before it builds something for recreational activities.
“Our streets are getting horrible,” Power said. “And now we’re talking about putting in a $2.5 million ball park and letting our streets go to pot. That’s what really bothers me.”
Cook said “baby steps” should be taken to get a sports complex started, including a smaller proposed tax increase.
“(A sports complex) will build a town,” Cook said. “It will do that. But I think we went overboard to include so many facets.
“Maybe I’m killing my own dream,” he added.