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The 'Ackerman Project' would see the city, school district combine efforts to increase opportunities

The City and the school district have begun conversations about the very real possibility of building a multiuse recreational complex at Ackerman Field.

Mayor Brian Hodson attended a school board work session on Thursday, Feb. 7 to present the concepts behind "The Ackerman Project" to board members.

He said the idea began with talks between school board member Mike Zagyva and Parks and Rec Advisory Board vice chair Barry Johnson, and then Hodson jumped on board as building a complex like this has long been a goal of his.

He said he, and others involved, envision a wide variety of recreational opportunities within the complex such as lighted softball, baseball, soccer, football and potentially rugby fields as well as lighted tennis, basketball and pickle ball courts. He said there is also potential to add a trail around or through the land. Of course, they're also considering additional parking, fencing and other needs.

The city council recently approved moving forward with a $6,200 feasibility study using consultant Cameron McCarthy. The study will determine what kinds of possibilities exist using the available land. The feasibility study is now beginning as Hodson met with the consultant on Feb. 7 prior to the board session for preliminary information-gathering.

The land in consideration is a 25-acre field on three tax parcels that butts up against Lee Elementary School and Ackerman Center. The City owns one long, narrow tax parcel where Legacy Park sits and beyond. The school district owns the other two, much larger tax parcels.

An aerial view of the Ackerman Field area shows the open space potentially available for the complex. The faint red lines indicate the three tax lots, with the easternmost lot belonging to the City and the two large western lots owned by the school district.

Hodson is proposing that the city and the district work together and form an intergovernmental agreement to make the recreational complex possible.

"It's an…opportunity to better utilize these fields from a recreational standpoint and to be able to use them for more of the year," Hodson said. "We can make this a usable field for multi-generational use — 8 months to 108 (years)."

Hodson expressed that this is not a new idea, but rather, there has been sustained interest in a complex like this for nearly three decades.

One school board member, Andrea Weber, showed concern for how this might work out and asked for more information from Hodson. School board members Tom Scott and Mike Zagyva were enthusiastic about the idea.

"This really does excite me," Scott said. "You've got to realize that our school grounds are really where our kids recreate in this community. Our role as a board obviously is to protect the school district, but I hope we go into this with an open mind and thought that we can work something out and work with the city just like Brian mentioned, with the goal of getting this done because I think it is an exciting possibility for our city."

Tentative/Proposed Timeline

-Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. : first task force meeting

-March : Consultant to deliver 3-4 concepts

-April : Narrow down concepts into a draft

-April/May: Begin establishing intergovernmental agreement

-May : Consultant to deliver final draft

-Aug./Sept.: Make IGA official

-May 2019 to Sept. 2020 : pin down funding, design, bid, build

-Concurrent to above dates : task force meetings

-Sept. 2020 : grand opening

Zagyva echoed Scott's comments, adding that this notion of the district and the city working together on a project is not new.

"Other school districts and entities have done this and have done this successfully, so we can do the same thing," Zagyva said. "I think it benefits the community…So, I'm just as excited as Tom is."

Hodson noted that within the feasibility study, the City has asked the consultant for some examples of IGAs, admitting that the agreement between the district and the City is where much of the "heavy-lifting" will occur.

To move this plan forward, a task force of 12-14 people has assembled, made up of a variety of community members including representatives from the school board, city council, city staff, chamber of commerce, park and recreation advisory board, Canby Kids and members of the community.

Hodson said the goal is to have the complex open by September 2020.

"[We hope to] celebrate the grand opening of a new recreational complex here in Canby with an amazing tournament of some kind and activities in September of 2020," Hodson said. "So it's a very big goal; it's a very aggressive goal, but it's, we believe, a very attainable goal."


Kristen Wohlers
Reporter
503-263-7512
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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