Priceville could pay for road extension with leftovers from $7M rec center
From The Decatur Daily
by Evan Belanger
PRICEVILLE — After approving a $9 million bond issue last week, town officials plan to build and open by next fall a 66,000-square-foot recreation center at North Park.
They’re also planning to use a portion of the bond proceeds to extend Marco Drive to East Upper River Road in a bid to open more property for commercial development and alleviate traffic congestion on Bethel Road.
Mayor Melvin Duran said this week that town officials expect to have $8.3 million to $8.5 million available for the projects after capitalized expenses are deducted from the bond.
“Hopefully, we’ll be anywhere from $6.5 million to a little over $7 million on the sportsplex, and what’s left we’ll spend on Marco Drive,” he said.
No groundbreaking date has been set for the recreation center, but Duran said officials hope to finalize plans Sept. 6 and plan to have it open by the fall of 2018.
Preliminary plans call for the center to include four basketball courts that can be converted into eight volleyball courts, a walking track, one or two batting cages, a fitness center, and a rehab center.
The center will be located on 8.4 acres in Morgan County’s North Park, at North Bethel Road and East Upper River Road. The park already has soccer fields, baseball fields and softball fields. Morgan County donated the land for the recreation center.
For now, town officials are calling the planned facility the Priceville Event Center. Duran said they are hopeful it will host travel ball and high school athletic tournaments, but they refrained from calling it the Priceville Sports Plex, because it could also host other events.
“You could have a wedding there, you could have a gun show there, you could have a boat show there, you could possibly have a camper show there, or a home and garden show. It’s an event center,” he said.
Noting the town’s proximity to Interstate 65, Morgan County Commission Chairman Ray Long predicted visitors attracted by the center would help stimulate the local economy, but said the project is not without risk for the town of roughly 3,300 people.
“It’s a big gamble for Priceville to spend that kind of money, but I think it’s going to work out for them,” Long said.