Public invited to discuss future of sports complexesWORTHINGTON — An open house discussion regarding the future of area athletic facilities will take place at 5:30 p.m. today at the Worthington High School.
WORTHINGTON — An open house discussion regarding the future of area athletic facilities will take place at 5:30 p.m. today at the Worthington High School.
The meeting allows the public to offer input on the topic and what they would like to see in future projects, Worthington City Administrator Craig Clark said Wednesday. A follow-up survey is planned for those who can’t attend.
Another purpose is to share findings from Hoisington Koegler Group Inc. (HKGI), a consulting firm brought on to help determine how to best move forward with projects, and ultimately design a master plan.
“It isn’t that we’re saying things are broken, but (it’s) how we can do things differently moving forward over a long term period,” Clark said.
One part of the study involved a survey in which 18 community entities responded to.
The survey found nearly half of those entities think the current facilities are inadequate, and two think the facilities are above adequate.
All of the respondents agreed they would like to host tournaments at their facilities, while only three currently do.
Common concerns revealed by the survey include flooding and drainage problems for softball and soccer fields, a need for more maintenance and a lack of practice fields, as well as restrooms and equipment.
Groups partnering with the city in this process include Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Independent School District 518 and the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, among others.
The partners hope to gather public opinion on various topics, including whether facilities should focus on local or regional needs, the appropriate size of facilities, additional amenities needed, partnership opportunities and available resources.
“We may have our vision of what needs to be accomplished, but without (public) input we may not identify what the true direction needs to be, and that’s why it’s important for people to participate so a proper plan gets developed,” District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard said.
Clark said the consulting group will be on hand tonight to provide feedback on the strengths and weaknesses found within the existing structures.
“We’re here to help facilitate the needs of the community,” Clark said. “This isn’t the city saying ‘Hey this is what every-body needs.’”
He said the goal is to first determine what the community wants, and then determine what they are willing to pay for down the road.
“We will take the findings from the meeting [today], expand on them and plan together to see what we can develop as a group,” said Mike Fury, athletic director for Minnesota West, Worthington campus.
“The final goal is to have a master plan from which to work from,” Clark said, adding the consulting group should have that back by next month.
“We’re involved because this is something good for commerce,” said Darlene Macklin, executive director of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce. “Anytime there are events going on in the community, it brings people into our community — not only would they be attending one of the sporting events, but they also might get a bite to eat or fill up their gas tank. It’s important to the economy as well.”
Landgaard said the collaborative effort does a number of things, including developing “a long-term plan for replacement, upgrading and maintenance that has not been in place before.
“It helps unify the direction of the overall community,” he continued.
“We can sit down on a regular basis and have focused dialog to meet goals outlined in this plan and better recognize that we’re all in this together,” Clark said.
Landgaard said he’s hoping for a clear message on what the public wants, so that future projects will be consistent and organized.
The community is heavily involved in sports activities, Clark said. “This is a community effort and we hope for a good turnout so people will tell us what’s on their mind.”
Daily Globe Reporter Kayla Strayer may be reached at 376-7322.