By Les Smith, Park Board (January 25th, 2000)
The Sports Complex steps up to the plate in this week’s park spotlight. Prior to the complex being built, baseball and softball little leaguers played ball at the two ball fields at the fairgrounds, or at Chautauqua, or at Kelly Park. And, if you had two or more kids playing at the same time and at different fields, it became a parent’s nightmare. So the need for a centralized location for ball playing became evident.
Mrs. Leonard Nelson offered the city land for that purpose. The land was located west of Kmart, but because of the lack of an access road that was not acceptable to all, the offer was not acted upon.
So the city entered into an agreement with the school district. The along Fourth Street (northwest of the high school) was to be developed into a four-field complex. As per the agreement (entered on Sept. 12, 1989) on field was to be retained for the girls’ softball team and be maintained by the school. The other three would be city’s responsibility. The length of the agreement is 20 years, and then year-to-year after that. But for the agreement to mean anything, funds had to be available.
So a bond issue for $160,000 was passed on a 670-334 vote on June 20, 1990. Construction began later that year. S&S Construction of Glenwood was awarded the bid for preparation and construction of the field. Vannausdle Construction was awarded the bid for the concession stand with some sub-contracting done.
In the summer of 1991, the complex was ready for the games to begin. Unfortunately, the complex was not complete according to plan. All four fields were supposed to be equipped with lights, but cost overruns in construction only allowed for two fields to be lighted. In spite of this, hundreds of children have enjoyed playing the national pastime and the girls’ softball team, as well as men’s softball league, have experienced some memorable competition.
The park board passes a resolution Aug. 12, 1999, to purchase lots 31 and 32 in the Thompson Addition from William Lindquist for $15,000. The city council voted its approval Aug. 16. This land is adjacent to Kelly Park and the plan is to develop the land into a regulation size softball field for use by the men’s softball league. This will let the men’s league schedule their games without conflicting with activities scheduled at the complex. Clean up of the Lindquist property is currently underway.
When baseball season is over, fields are used for another sport that’s growing in popularity- soccer. The next Pele or Mia Hamm could be in our presence and getting their start at the complex.
If you enjoy the sound of the bat (all be it aluminum) against a baseball or softball, or the skill of moving a soccer ball down the field for a “GOOOAL,” the park board encourages one and all to take the opportunity to visit the Sports Complex as well as the other parks Red Oak has to offer. They are yours to enjoy.