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Group meets to discuss sports facilities

WORTHINGTON -- Meeting as a small group Tuesday afternoon, the committee working toward new athletic facilities in town took its next steps.

Representatives from Minnesota West Community and Technical College, the city of Worthington, District 518 and the Chamber of Commerce were in attendance.

"We wanted to keep the momentum going on the project," Worthington City Administrator Craig Clark said. "There were smaller changes as far as including hockey. Changes are reflected in needs-assessment documents. The next thing is we'll take reports to city council on the 24th, and we'll have each of the other bodies do the same so we can totally receive it."

Attending the meeting were Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka and Justin Heckenlaible from Minnesota West, Jim Eulberg and Clark from the city, Superintendent John Landgaard and school board member Lori Dudley from District 518 and Scott Rosenberg, who is both a school board member and a city employee.

The committee set a goal of looking toward the next step. The needs assessment and master plan have already been presented, and public comment was allowed.

One of the topics discussed was funding. A popular revenue source has been a possible half-cent sales tax.

"It would be November of 2017 before we could look at reauthorizing the sales tax for any other purpose," Clark said. "That hasn't been a decision as far as council, but I know that's been identified as a potential revenue source. The state requires a one-year stop of state sales tax."

With that information, Dudley inquired about a realistic time frame.

"Based on projections, in July of 2017 we will have collected the $6 million, plus issuance costs," Clark said. "If we did have to wait a year, that would take us to November of 2018. Assuming the waiting period, it's 2018."

If, in fact, the facility is five or six years from even beginning to see funding, Heckenlaible said the current cost projections won't be valid then.

"In five years, everything is going to go up," he said.

Clark said he also wasn't sure the current projected costs are correct. The master plan released in March had a total cost of more than $6 million.

"I'm still a little apprehensive that they are high enough," he said. "Maybe that's because I'm overly conservative."

According to Landgaard, while the plan covers facilities for all sports, the immediate need is for soccer fields.

"If we build on to the high school, we won't have anything besides Trojan Field at that point," Landgaard said. "We are going to have an immediate need centered around soccer."

The group set a date for its next meeting, during which it will work to put together a structure for the committee -- including a formal name.

Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen can be reached at 376-7323.