Chelsea Council discusses facets of sports complex project
By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer
CHELSEA – The Chelsea City Council spent nearly an hour at its July 7 meeting discussing the projected layout of the Chelsea Sports Complex and potential amenities it could feature.
“We’re not making this 100 percent what we’re going to have,” Chelsea Mayor Earl Niven said. “This is what we want to identify. It’s only a sharing mode.”
First on the list of amenities for the roughly 105-acre site off Shelby County 11 near Chelsea High School are three baseball fields with a 225-foot fence and proper netting down the baselines, along with a concession stand and press box.
Project plans call for five additional ball fields, six competitive tennis courts, a playground area, a 5-acre lake with a dam between 40-45 feet wide and a drilled well for irrigation.
The council talked about the need for outfield irrigation and a sprinkler head behind the pitcher’s mound, and whether to construct the dugouts with blocks or wire and interior electrical outlets.
Covered bleachers, a maintenance building and batting cages with lights, electrical outlets and turf flooring were also points of discussion.
Regarding parking at the complex, the council approved a resolution with Shirley Brothers Inc. for the construction of 100 additional parking spaces at the sports complex near the three baseball fields for less than $24,000.
City Engineer Frank Spencer said the extra 100 spaces would bring the total number of spaces up to about 200, and the cost for paving would be about $136,000.
“I think we’ve got the money to do so,” Spencer said. “You’re looking at a flat surface (for parking).”
“I think that’s money well spent,” Councilman Dale Neuendorf said, expressing concern that a gravel parking area would create problems for wheelchairs, strollers and carts.
The council also talked about the number of restrooms, which would dictate the dimensions of the concession stand and press box building.
Councilwoman Juanita Champion said she liked the idea of having a family restroom in addition to separate men’s and women’s restrooms.
“We can make anything work, it’s just a matter of your preference,” Spencer told the council.
Chelsea Fire Chief Wayne Shirley noted plans for the press box to be equipped with a weather-alert mechanism and Wi-Fi capabilities.
The project started in the spring of 2014 and is estimated to cost between $7 million and $8 million when finished, Niven said.
Funding for the project is coming through capital projects, he added. The city borrowed $6 million to take care of the nearly complete Chelsea Community Center off Shelby County 47 and the sports complex, along with adding a 1-cent sales tax for capital projects afterward.
Future plans for the complex include walking trails, a picnic area and an outdoor amphitheater, Niven said.
Spencer suggested having the plans ready by August to allow for about nine months of construction time on the first three fields.
The council agreed to hold a work session after the July 21 council meeting.
“We do want to get this finished for the next ball season, and you can do a first-class stadium without every bell and whistle that’s ever been invented,” Niven said. “We would love for this to be in effect next spring. To me, it’s more important that we agree on the components.”