MBL Park upgrade grant process underway

Farragut residents had an opportunity to have a voice in how Mayor Bob Leonard Park is being expanded when the Town held a public hearing.

The hearing took place Thursday, March 10, in Town Hall but only a Farragut Municipal Planning Commission member and three Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen members attended. Another public hearing was Tuesday, March 23, at Mayor Bob Leonard Park at 301 Watt Road. Residents also could comment on the Town’s Facebook page at parks@townoffarragut.org before March 31.

Sue Stuhl, Farragut Parks and Leisure Services director, said the hearing was part of the procedure for the Town’s application for a 50-50 matching fund Local Parks and Recreation Fund grant for which she and her staff are working on the application. The grant would pay half of project costs and the Town would pay the remainder.

“Originally, our plan would be just for the field conversion [to replace Field 3 at Mayor Bob Leonard Park to synthetic turf],” Stuhl said. “About three weeks ago, they changed the upper limit of the grant from a $250,000 match to half a million [dollars] match; so we all went back, scrambling, to the drawing board.”

Stuhl’s staff now has included an add-on to the field project.

“We will be asking for money for this field plus money for the renovation or reconstruction of the upper restroom so it’s bigger,” she said. “Right now, it is not ADA compliant and we need to get it as big as we can on that slab.

“We just opened bids and we’re still working on which bid to recommend to [the Board]. Field No. 1 is coming in somewhere about $585,000.”

Stuhl said the cost of the first field, which the Town converted to synthetic turf, came in at about $500,000 of which the Town paid $250,000.

“We knew when we got it, that was a bargain because we felt the contractor would come in at a very good price. [The contractor] had done a lot of private ones for high schools, but they hadn’t done public ones and they wanted to be able to do that,” Stuhl said.

She showed Board members a photograph of a restroom at McFee Park and said for the purpose of the grant, she has to show an example of what the Town wants to build. The current restroom building at Mayor Bob Leonard Park was built when the softball fields were installed.

In the grant application, Stuhl also included additional parking.

“What we’re talking about is additional parking on the north side and the east side of the east baseball field there off Watt Road,” she said. The playground would be behind and to the left of the proposed site.

“The design hasn’t been done yet, but likely it will wrap around the east side of the baseball field,” she said. “This really is the only place we have to go for additional parking. On our prime nights, we are at capacity.”

Recently the fields opened for the 2016 season, although the synthetic turf field had been up and running all winter.

“It’s booked,” Stuhl said. “It’s now the most popular field we have.”

She also discussed the splash pad project at McFee Park that currently is under construction. The splash pad the Town had has been removed and work on a new splash pad is under way. The completion date will depend upon the weather.