The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

October 10, 2012

Sports complex could be ‘economic engine’ for Ottumwa

Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation says infrastructure, community feedback needed

OTTUMWA — A sports complex could be one of the best things to happen to Ottumwa, said Councilman Brian Morgan, but not before extensive research is conducted and community conversations are held.

Brad Little, president and CEO of the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation, spoke to the Parks Advisory Board Tuesday night about ORLF’s ideas to develop the city’s park system and build sports complexes.

Little said the foundation has been looking at and traveling to cities similar to Ottumwa for the past two years to get an idea of where they started, how their communities have progressed and how Ottumwa can learn lessons from what they’ve accomplished.

“We’ve looked at cities with river, rail, manufacturing and a long history, who have reached the ‘worst of’ something and managed to pull back and move forward,” Little said.

Some of these cities have included Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Bloomfield, Chattanooga, Tenn., and more.

“Every place we’ve been has said, ‘It’s the water, stupid,’” Little said. “Until you figure that out, until you understand the importance of a river going right through the community, it’ll be futile efforts.”

And it doesn’t matter the condition of the water, he said. The tipping point for these cities was when they realized how to embrace the river and make it a feature, not a liability, he said.

One of the key elements is revitalization, which ORLF has narrowed down to four key areas: Reclaiming Main Street, Riverfront Renaissance, Ottumwa park sports campus and extending Central Park to the river.

ORLF hired Stroud Watson and Christian Rushing, consultants from Chattanooga, Tenn., to lead the “Reclaiming Main Street” initiative.

Elements of this project include studying converting downtown from one-way to two-way streets; the parking lot at the Jefferson Street Bridge and Main Street; streetscape and facade standards and guidelines; Lead Ottumwa Leadership Academy; downtown bus stop and shelter relocation; the intersection of Washington and Main streets; and quiet zones at rail crossings.

Fred Lynn, owner of Lynn Leisure Development, of Orlando, Fla., was the lead designer for the casino project a few years back and has been hired to help with the “Riverfront Renaissance.”

The view from Bridge View Center is the “city’s front porch,” Little said, and downtown Ottumwa is its living room.

A sports complex would fit into this view, he said.

“We firmly believe that youth sports, while they’re not completely recession-proof, are pretty darn near close to being so,” Little said, since parents continue to do their best to get their children to sports tournaments, games and training.

Tournaments coming to Ottumwa would mean an overnight stay or two, and likely more than two people traveling with each player, he said.

“It could be an economic engine for Ottumwa,” he said. “It’s silly not to say a lazy river is a good idea, but I’d rather have the conversation about investing dollars in something that has turnaround now. We’d rather have a conversation about something that creates jobs.”

But right now, said ORLF board member Tom Lazio, Ottumwa doesn’t have the infrastructure to support high-volume sports tournaments.

“Infrastructure has to be ready, meaning beds, restaurants,” Little said.

He said if it’s not here, there are plenty of cities who would gladly compete with Ottumwa to hold those tournaments.

Billy Young said Ottumwa hosted the Ottumwa Open tennis tournaments for 25 to 30 years, bringing thousands to the city who spent money on hotels, restaurants and shopping.

But when Dan Staggs stopped organizing them, the tournaments stopped, said board president Bob Beisch.

That is one of the key elements to something like this, Little said, is creating a base of volunteers who know the processes to carry on once a leader steps down.

“I don’t know where you’re going to find 12 to 20 acres in central Ottumwa,” said Councilman Mitch Niner.

Little suggested that a team could work around that with transportation and separate facilities.

“We want to create synergies, hubs within the community,” he said. “We don’t want them driving all over town.”

Beisch warned that many people in the community he’s talked to are adamant that they do not want sports complexes erected in the parks system.

“There are always naysayers,” Little said. “We’ll let the experts lead community conversations and figure it out.”

Niner warned, though, that it gets under people’s skin when people from outside Ottumwa come in two to three times “and are considered experts on Ottumwa.”

The Parks Advisory Board also approved a revised proposal from Ottumwa Rotary for landscaping in Greater Ottumwa Park just off of Wapello Street near the entrance to the campgrounds.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Water Pollution Control Facility gets OK to upgrade OTTUMWA — An emergency Ottumwa City Council meeting resulted in spending $140,583 for the Water Pollution Control Facility. Friday afternoon, council members listened intently as Ottumwa Water Pollution Control Facility Superintendent Kam Reeves told

    July 25, 2014

  • Quincy Ave. project starts Aug. 4 OTTUMWA — Updates on the Quincy Avenue project was given to residents and businesses residing between Albia Road and Hwy. 34 on Thursday night at Ottumwa City Hall. About a dozen people attended the meeting where City Engineer Dan Sturm gave an updat

    July 25, 2014

  • Silence continues on fatal shooting OTTUMWA — Law enforcement is exercising its right to remain silent about a shooting death that occurred south of town this week. The Wapello County Sheriff's Office, which had responded to the shooting, said most information on the case would now com

    July 25, 2014

  • 0726 OTT cedar creek Gone in a flash

    BLOOMFIELD — Bob Parker got about as close to lightning as you can Friday morning, and came out of it without injury. A line of thunderstorms started moving through southeast Iowa in the early morning hours. Parker was heading to work at about 7 a.m.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0724 OTT Tehel mug -T -M Resolution — Techel verdict reached

    DAVENPORT — The father of a slain Wapello County woman said he began to heal as soon as he heard the guilty verdict today. The jury unanimously pronounced Seth Techel, 23, guilty on charges of first-degree murder and non-consensual termination of a h

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0726 OTT Garden Bites III Color Photo -T Garden Bites sees growth BLOOMFIELD — Nearly one month ago, families gathered at Pioneer Ridge Nature Center to plant various vegetables to harvest and eat on Thursday at Garden Bites. The program allows families to get their hands a bit dirty at Pioneer Ridge and plant food

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0725 OTT Riverfront design A new outlook on Ottumwa OTTUMWA — A "River Renaissance" is brewing in Wapello County. Planners working for Christian Rushing Studio from Tennessee took the public's ideas, and gave them life via maps, numerical projections and artists' renderings. "Hold onto your seats; you

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police to parents: check kids' online activities BLOOMFIELD — The Bloomfield police chief says the arrests of nine men in connection with sexting a teenage girl underscores the need for parents to keep an eye on their children online. Chief Shawn Armstrong said cases involving one or two people are

    July 24, 2014

  • 0725 OTT birthday rumble -T -M Age 106, still ready to rumble OTTUMWA — With the stories flowing, Celma Birdsall had the ride of her life Thursday. "She shared a lot of memories," said her chauffeur for the day, Dennis Parrish. Birdsall has built up a lot of stories over the 106 years she's been around. After h

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0725 OTT College Connections color photo -T -M IHCC eases transition to college OTTUMWA — When choosing a college that's just right for you, it is important to find one that works its hardest to ensure your success as a student. Indian Hills Community College is doing just that this week with a College Connections Workshop spons

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook