By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS – Break out your bats and ball caps.

Tuesday, the City Council approved beginning the architectural and engineering process for what will become the city's new outdoor athletic facility.

The facility will feature six baseball/softball fields as well as soccer fields.

Park and Recreation Director Jerry Bark is excited that this, the first step in the process, is finally under way.

This is something we've been working on for the past five years," Bark said. "Something that the community definitely needs is an outdoor athletic complex. We currently have ball fields, but they're spread all over the city. It will allow families with multiple patrons within our program to go to just one facility."

He added that the old fields will be utilized as practice facilities.

It will eliminate some of the dilemmas faced by families where parents have to choose which child's game to attend.

On Nov. 21, sealed proposals for architectural/engineering services for facility's development were opened, and five proposals were received for consideration from engineering firms from Austin, Waco, Killeen, Temple and Round Rock.

The $3 million project is funded by the city's 2006 certificates of obligation. The design phase will begin once an architectural/design firm is chosen. There is no timetable for any phase of the project, but Bark said one is expected to come from the bid winner.

Bark said the new facility will give the parks and recreation department more options.

"It's going to allow us a lot more flexibility in our programming," Bark said. "When you build a new facility, you get more participants."

He said one of the biggest challenges he faced was explaining the city's needs for such a facility. It's

a "leisure time" issue, so explaining the need through participation in programming was the most effective way to get the city to go along with the project.

"You really have to do your homework," Bark said.

The second step was to find a large piece of property in the city that was reasonably priced and yet could meet all the city's needs. Bark said that step alone took much of the past 18 months. He finally decided on a tract of land past Farm-to-Market 2410 and Knight's Ridge.

"It was hard to find," Bark said. "I'm extremely excited. It's a huge step for the parks and recreation department and for this community."

Contact Justin Cox at

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