CPS seeks public input on Anchor complex plans

June 9, 2018

First, members of the public got a bird’s-eye view of the conceptual drawings for a sports complex south of Columbus High School on Wednesday. Next comes putting a price list together for suggested elements of the final design in the months ahead.

“Today is for digesting the (preliminary) layout,” said Joe Zadina, senior project manager of Lamp, Rynearson & Associates of Omaha, on the proposed Anchor Activities Complex that would be built on a 24.4-acre parcel along the southeast corner of the high school campus.

The Omaha man told an audience of about 20 area residents at a presentation in the high school auditorium the next phase of the proposal would be piecing together costs and the Columbus Public Schools Foundation’s mobilization of fundraising efforts.

The final drawings will be presented to the Columbus school board in July.

“Then, we’ll dive into Phase 2,” Zadina said.

The morning meeting, along with another in the evening, were held to solicit public participation in what they want to see in the features of a sports complex along 38th Street and 33rd Avenue (across from Lost Creek Elementary).

Phase 1 of the project, which included talks with the Columbus Baseball and Columbus Tennis associations, has focused on designs for baseball fields (two), softball fields (two), batting cages, tennis courts (six), a concession/storage building, playground area and an indoor multipurpose facility.

The drawings on display featured the four fields in a cloverleaf design, with a centralized two-story hub with concessions and storage on the ground floor and second-story crow’s nest with views of all four fields.

The dimensions of the baseball fields would be 325 feet down the left and right field lines and 400 feet to dead center. The softball fields would have outfield fences 200 feet distant all around.

The pitching bullpens would be attached to the fields with access from the dugouts, Zadina told the audience.

Zadina said the preliminary design also included a promenade-style walkway extending from the main high school entryway, south across Discoverer Drive and leading into the complex’s facilities.

Complex supporters on Wednesday suggested the plans take into account drainage off the complex, the need for shaded bleachers, parking availability and the addition of amenities such as a children’s playground area and family gathering areas.

The early plans also have some undefined spaces, 2 ½ acres in the southeast corner and about five acres on the west side of the four-field area, Zadina said.

Those attending also told the project manager to consider “removable netting” above the four-field baseball and softball fields as a precaution against an unaware spectator at one field being hit by a foul ball or an errant throw from another.

Superintendent Troy Loeffelholz, who opened the meeting with a brief overview of the proposed complex, said the tract of land along 38th Street drains to the north along Discoverer Drive, where it flows eastward into a storm drainage system toward 33rd Avenue.

There are still a lot of moving parts, said Loeffelholz, adding Hastings and Kearney have examples of sports complexes that local supporters might like to visit for ideas.

School officials have previously also suggested a complex could include an indoor practice facility, multipurpose room, batting cages, bathrooms, locker room space for officials and parking.

Jim Osborn is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at jim.osborn@lee.net.

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