Sports complex delayed

By AMY GORDON / Staff Writer

CALERA – Ground won’t be broken on Calera’s new sports complex at least until sometime in 2009.

Chemical Lime Company, which has pledged $7 million to the city to help build the complex, cannot release the funds until the company receives water and air permits for its new quarry within the city.

Those permits have been held up because of a backlog at the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, said Chemical Lime spokesperson Steve Bradley.

“We had hoped to have our permit in hand sometime in the spring of 2008,” Bradley said. “We had hoped, by this time, to be pretty far along.”

There are no problems with the permits, Bradley said. It’s simply that ADEM is short staffed with a lot of work to do.

Chemical Lime’s deal with Calera stipulates three things.

First, Calera had to annex the property between Highways 20 and 70, which is where the quarry will be located. Second, the property had to be rezoned for the quarry.

Those first two steps have been completed. Now, Chemical Lime must get its environmental permits before they can complete their end of the bargain and release the $7 million for Calera to build the complex.

However, it may be a while before that happens.

“We’re hoping it happens soon, but we have no expected time line,” said Steven Edwards, Calera’s superintendent of parks and recreation.

Until then, Chemical Lime is trying to do its part to help the city’s youth.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the company presented Mayor George Roy with a check for more than $137,000 to help get better lighting for the current practice fields and build concrete steps from the new high school to the practice fields.

The money will improve lighting at Oliver Park, bring in all-new lighting at the middle school and build the steps, Edwards said.

“They gave us the money to help out while waiting for the permits,” Edwards said.

Edwards said he is already working on the lighting for the middle school. After that is completed, work will begin at Oliver Park, he said.

Bradley said Chemical Lime will end up contributing more than the $7 million it originally pledged because of the extra money for lighting.

“It will provide great practice facilities for both schools,” he said. “We realized that practice facilities were not readily available, so Chem Lime stepped into the void.