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Gering considers new ball diamonds
January 10, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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In the near future, members of the Gering City Council should decide on a use for land it purchased just north of Five Rocks Amphitheater.

In was in 2002 when an idea first came up to build a sports complex or arena on the property. And as the city asked for public input, the size and scope of the facility, along with the cost, grew rapidly. By 2011, the estimated cost for a full-blown sports complex was in the $12 million range.

Now, the city’s Recreation Committee is discussing building baseball and softball diamonds on the property, after the Gering Schools and GO Baseball organization expressed interest in using the fields.

Gering Mayor Ed Mayo said that before the project begins, he’d like the city to hire a consultant to determine the project’s feasibility. The consultant would cost between $5,000 and $10,000 and could determine the best use for the property, whether to go with ball diamonds or a sports complex.

“A sports complex would have to be self-supporting and not burden the taxpayers in any way,” Mayo said. “If it can’t support itself, we shouldn’t be doing it. But we should hire an expert to determine that for us.”

Another reason the Recreation Committee wants to move ahead with baseball and softball diamonds is because the city terminated its lease with the farmer who was working the land.

Council member Jill McFarland has said earlier that council should strike the phrase “sports complex” from usage because for the public, it conjures up the $12 million project she called a white elephant.

Fellow council member Julie Morrison said she wants to know the purpose of the feasibility study. “What are they looking for when they do this?” she asked. “Are they looking at a sports complex or ball fields? Most importantly, what’s it going to cost?”

Morrison said a lot of work needs to be done on the land even before anything can be put on it.

“I just don’t think a sports complex can support itself,” she said. “If people are going to come for tournaments, we need hotels and restaurants to accommodate them. We need to take this in order and right now, it isn’t in order.”
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