When they met Tuesday, Leavenworth city commissioners again discussed proposed ball fields at city-owned property behind the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 55 building on 20th Street.
The city purchased land adjacent to the Eagles building last year. A portion of the land already has been used for the construction of a detention basin.
City officials are proposing to construct a softball field and practice ball field on the remaining portion land, which is located at 21st and Choctaw streets.
Last month, commissioners tabled a proposed contract with VSR Design in the amount of $70,000 for design work for the fields.
Commissioners discussed the project again Tuesday. No action was taken during what was a study session. But the issue will be brought back for a vote May 14.
The Capital Improvements Program approved by commissioners in November budgeted $70,000 for this year for the project's design work and $900,000 in 2014 for construction.
As part of the design, onsite parking and a restroom facility would be included.
Julie Anderson, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said the new softball field would be better suited for men's softball under Amateur Softball Association guidelines than the field currently used at Cody Park. Women's softball then could be moved to Cody Park, which she said is better suited for women's softball under ASA guidelines than the field being used at Hawthorn Park.
Vance Rzepka, owner and landscape architect for VSR Design in Overland Park, said "there's really not too many bells and whistles" in the the proposed ball field complex.
Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Preisinger, who participated by telephone, suggested holding off on the project until after state legislators wrap up their current session next month.
"I do believe we need the park," he said.
But he said actions taken by the state lawmakers might lead to tax revenue shortfalls for the city. He noted, for example, that the Kansas Senate passed a bill that would exempt health clubs from property taxes.
He said the money for the ball field project may be needed for infrastructure.
Preisinger also suggested ASA standards are no longer as important as they once were.
Commissioner Lisa Weakley expressed the belief that having fields that meet ASA standards is important to attracting people to adult softball programs.
She also questioned the need to wait until after the state legislative session is over.
"The Legislature is going to do what the Legislature does," she said.
She said the city has adequate financing for the project.
She said the project could lead to an expansion of the programs.
Page 2 of 2 - Commissioner Davis Moulden asked about the percentage of people in the city who use the existing ballparks.
Anderson said the city hosted 53 youth teams last year as well as 21 men's teams and 11 women's teams.
"And we're hoping to grow that," she said.
Preisinger said he understands the need for the ball fields but his concern remains whether it's the right time.
Mayor Laura Janas Gasbarre said when talking about quality of life issues, people can place a dollar amount on something, but it's much more than that.
"It comes back to us in so many ways," she said of the benefits.
She said the commission has to invest in these types for things for the community.
"I know it's very expensive," she said.
City Manager Scott Miller said officials only are looking at the $70,000 cost for the design work at this point. He said there are a couple of add-ons, one of which is the restroom, that can be left out of the project during the construction portion as a way of cutting costs.
Miller noted commissioners couldn't vote on the matter Tuesday during the study session. He said the issue could be brought back next week.
Commissioner Larry Dedeke suggested waiting a couple of more weeks in order to get public feedback.
Gasbarre said she supported waiting until the Commission's May 14 meeting.