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Council undecided on recreation options
August 29, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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Both the city’s Recreation Committee and the Gering City Council were unable to come to consensus about the future of the city’s recreational facilities in Monday meetings.
The city has been dealing with a number of issues regarding those facilities, including whether it would be feasible to build a multi-million dollar sports complex on city land immediately north of the Five Rocks Amphitheater. That could include outdoor baseball and softball diamonds.

But the city is also currently expanding softball diamonds within Oregon Trail Park for use by the high school. Coaches have said they’re happy to be back in Gering for home games, after renting fields at the Carpenter Center in Terrytown for several seasons.

Another challenge is the condition of the aging municipal swimming pool in Oregon Trail Park, which Mayor Ed Mayo said has been on life support for several years. While a consultant from Denver made a presentation about a new pool to council members several years ago, no action was taken, as it was cost prohibitive.

Council member Dan Smith, chair of the Recreation Committee, said the Request for Proposals from last year concerning the sports complex was not discussed during his committee meeting. The amended version of the request only addresses the city’s existing recreational facilities, including Five Rocks Amphitheater, which Mayo said has seen scant usage for years.

Smith requested the council table the motion to ask for an RFP until the council determines which direction it wants to proceed. “Depending on how the council goes, this request may or may not be needed,” he said.

Council voted to table the motion until their Sept. 9 meeting. Smith agreed to meet with Jill McFarland, chair of the Administrative Committee, and the Recreation Committee to define the scope of any future RFP and what issues it should address.

“If the sports complex comes up for a vote next time without a feasibility study, I will veto that,” Mayor Mayo said. “I cannot support moving forward with any aspect of the sports fields or complex without one. We need to have a sense of direction on what is going to be built and how it’s going to be built.”

Council member Justin Allred said he agreed with Smith. “I don’t believe we should vote on having a feasibility study until we decide on whether the sports complex itself is a good idea or not.”
But McFarland said council couldn’t make an intelligent decision about a sports complex until they receive input from a consultant on what the complex should be.
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