By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
While Lampasas residents are still at odds over the future of their children's schools, the future of their recreation looks to be stabilizing.
The city of Lampasas received approval Feb. 2 for a $400,000 Texas Parks and Wildlife grant that will go toward the construction of an athletic complex, the first phase in the city's plans for a full recreation center.
The plan will include two baseball fields, two soccer fields, a hike-and-bike trail and a small pavilion and playground area. Construction isn't expected to begin until the end of this year or the beginning of next year.
City Manager Michael Stoldt said he's excited the process is under way, but residents need to realize this is only the first step of a mult-year plan.
"This is the first phase of the project," Stoldt said. "The first time we didn't get funding, but we did this time. There was never funding for an indoor recreation center. There's been a lot of speculation about what will go out there, but this phase has always been about just a sports complex."
He said the city plans to add additional baseball and soccer fields in the future.
Nearly two years ago, the city purchased a 173-acre tract of land that would be the site of the future recreation complex. This was the second go-round for the matching grant, which was just one point short of being approved by the state.
City Secretary Stacy Erack, who was acting city manager at the time the first grant was denied, said it was indeed a setback, but the city proved that perseverence pays off.
"It was a big disappointment, but we didn't give up," Erack said. "We pushed forward and tried again."
Erack, who has worked at the city for more than 20 years, said the growth in the area has really spawned the need for such a facility.
It's going to be a great asset for our community," she said. "It's a sign of our growth, I think it's inevitable. It's going to be good for our economic development. We reach out to surrounding communities and they use it as well. It's going to be a countywide facility."
Stoldt said that while it was an exciting step, many kinks still have to be worked out, the biggest of which is funding.
"Since this is a matching grant, we have to come up with the money, and the grant doesn't pay for water, electrical or parking lots," he said. "We're in the process of reviewing our budget to determine how much more money we need."
Stoldt said the next step for the city is continued planning, which will go on for the next three or four months, followed by a two-month bidding period. Once those steps are taken, residents can look forward to an official groundbreaking.
"It will greatly expand the amount of land and will be able to provide us the opportunity for hosting sports tournaments, and will bring us up into a whole new ballpark, so to speak," he said.
"I think it will provide the residents of Lampasas a first-class facility their children can enjoy for years to come."
Contact Justin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7568