The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

May 2, 2013

Economic driver v. community need

OTTUMWA — The question isn't whether Ottumwa needs a sports complex, it's where to put it.

At a planning discussion between the city, citizens and RDG Planning & Design associates Wednesday night, maps of the city were strewn across tables to give participants a birds-eye view.

"A lot of the focus isn't so much a focus on whether there's a need [for a sports complex] — the consensus is there's a need — it's primarily about whether the facility wants to happen as a redevelopment project within the current park assets or if it should be a new development, meaning bringing more park land into the system for that purpose," said Scott Crawford, RDG landscape architect. "Then you could relocate some of the existing facilities ... if it opens up redevelopment opportunities in those parks for other uses."

RDG project manager Cory Scott said rather than sitting in the RDG offices working on preliminary designs, they decided to bring them to Ottumwa to continue to brainstorm ideas.

"We're using the 2001 plan as a base, but being more targeted about how we're going to develop a concept," Scott said. "Before it was giant areas ... now we're looking at specific areas."

But the discussion should always return to what's best for the community, Crawford said, since there are two sides to a sports complex.

"One side is to build it so it's very attractive for out-of-town and regional tournaments," he said. "The other piece is to balance that with what the community's needs are and what the community can sustain over time, because it's very easy to get caught up in the idea of using it as an economic driver — which it can be — and overbuild the facility."

City Administrator Joe Helfenberger said one suggestion included building some facilities on the outskirts of town with tournaments in facilities closer to the center of the community.

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