While ground is not expected to be broken until June, city council Monday tidied up some of the financial details associated with construction of the St. Thomas Outdoor Recreation Complex, to be located on Burwell Road.
In a unanimous move, council authorized staff to release a tender to pre-qualified contractors based on an estimated construction cost of just over $10 million for the multi-use recreation complex to be housed on a 65-acre, city-owned parcel of land.
Included in the report from finance director David Aristone was a recommendation authorizing him to submit an application to Infrastructure Ontario for a $10 million debenture.
Council had already approved an amount of $450,000 to be included in the 2016 capital budget for design and tender specifications.
In a separate report to council, city manager Wendell Graves recommended $600,000 be drawn from a $700,000 strategic initiatives fund established in this year’s capital budget for upcoming initiatives.
This money would be used, starting in 2018, to provide funding toward the annual debenture costs of the complex.
While the focus is on the provision of much-needed soccer pitches and football fields, the complex will also include a community park featuring a play zone with splash pad, basketball courts, multi-use trail, washrooms, concession stand, change rooms, shade pavilion and several parking lots.
Coun. Gary Clarke praised the complex as “a fantastic project, an investment in the city.”
But he stressed the need to dialogue with user groups to take on a fundraising role.
“I don’t want those opportunities to be missed,” added Clarke.
The St. Thomas Soccer Club has already committed to a donation of soccer nets with an estimated value of $140,000.
Noting construction of the recreation complex is a two-year project, Graves noted this would be a good time to talk funding partnerships with the user groups.
Mayor Heather Jackson expressed concern about operating costs, expected to range from $80,000 to $100,000 per year.
“It is not a year-round facility,” she pointed out and suggested an indoor soccer facility might be a future addition.
At a council reference committee meeting last month at city hall, Robin Granger, representing the St. Thomas Soccer Club, questioned the need for new, full-sized fields at the Burwell Road site. Instead the soccer club would like to develop an indoor facility housed initially in an inflatable dome.
Council still needs to determine whether to proceed with construction in one phase or opt for a two-phase approach over several years.
According to Graves, if all goes to schedule, the project could begin as early as June.