A decades-old drainage problem could soon be repaired at the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex, which is good news for users and visitors to the facility’s north side.
For nearly 40 years, visitors have had to squeeze or wade their way around the standing water that collects around the entrance that leads to baseball/softball fields 1-4 on the north side of the complex.
“It’s been a recurring issue for some time,” Greg Harrison, chairman of the complex committee, said at a regular committee meeting on May 6.
Referring to the heavy rains that had fallen in the area over the past two weeks, commissioner Keith Smith, who regularly hosts softball tournaments at the resort, agreed.
“It’s really been a problem the last few days,” Smith said.
Commissioner Stacy Scroggins highlighted the renovation and expansion plan underway at the complex.
The massive project was split into two phases and over $3 million of work was completed for the first phase, including the addition of two new soccer fields, two new baseball/softball fields and the completion of two existing baseball/softball diamonds – – all at the south end of the complex.
New turf, lighting and fencing were also installed on the four older pitches at the north end of the facility.
Two booths, which were donated by Murphy USA, have been set up and are expected to open soon to serve as concession stands and additional restrooms for the South Fields.
The kiosks are used at many MUSA gas stations and convenience stores across the country.
An existing concession stand is available to visitors on the north side of the complex.
The remaining component of the first phase requires additional toilets to serve the south fields.
City officials discussed expanding an existing restroom facility adjacent to the Dumas Pavilion and including four stalls each in separate men’s and women’s units.
“It needs to be sorted out,” Scroggins said, referring to the irrigation problem at the north entrance.
“We’re spending millions of dollars there and people can’t walk over the fence without getting their feet wet,” he continued. “We need to look at the feasibility and the most economical way to do this.”
Harrison said the El Dorado Department of Public Works had considered installing French drains and after the meeting Harrison said he learned the project had been added to the DPW schedule.
Plans include one or two French drains that will carry water from the north entrance to the ditch behind Field 1, Harrison said.
Other maintenance projects and issues
Commissioners heard updates on other projects and maintenance issues at the complex.
The city erected wayfinding signs to direct visitors to the north and south grounds, including the new soccer fields, and a no parking sign to prohibit visitors from parking at the Clean Harbors Playground near the Dumas pavilion.
The group also revisited an issue they discussed last month.
Harrison said litter is one of the top complaints he hears about the resort.
In April, the group heard from Perry Pope, owner of Flower Pot Lawn Care and Landscaping, who is contracting with the city to mow and landscape the complex.
Litter was one of the concerns Pope raised with the commission, saying he and his team had to spend time clearing litter from complex grounds before they could start mowing.
In a recent case, he said, the litter was excessive and Flowerpot crews spent three hours removing it before they could mow.
After a long discussion, the commissioners advised Pope and Anthony Farris King – athletic director of the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado, which operates the complex, under a contract with the city – to coordinate their schedules so that the grounds are free of litter before Flower Pot crews arrive to mow.
To help deal with the situation, the Union County Quorum Court also agreed last month to increase trash pickup at the resort from once a month to twice a week on Mondays and Fridays. , said Harrison, who also sits on the quorum court.
Commissioners had said the problem was due, in part, to overflowing bins, with rubbish being blown around by the wind and animals.
On May 6, they also discussed encouraging coaches to speak with their teams about litter and “leaving dugouts as they found them” at the resort.
Another option is to engage parents to ensure the compound and other public fields in the county are kept clean, Harrison said.
The Resort Commission is working with The Diamond Agency on a campaign to renew and stimulate sponsorships for signs/banners to be hung on the resort’s exterior fences.
Don Hale, chairman and owner of the Diamond Agency, previously told commissioners the aim was to secure deals with at least 20 sponsors this year.
Last week, the agency said there were six sponsorships left before the goal.
The resort commission is exploring grant opportunities to help develop the second phase of the master plan to renovate and expand the resort.
The first phase is covered by nearly $2.7 million from the El Dorado Works Tax, a one-cent municipal sales tax initiative to fund economic development, municipal infrastructure and quality of life projects for the community.
The El Dorado Publicity and Promotions Commission paid $271,800 to help complete the football fields after learning that the first phase was facing a budget shortfall due to unforeseen engineering costs.
The A&P commission directed the remaining balance of $57,084 from the soccer field project and applied it to the installation of the kiosks.
The work required an additional $14,807 which was also approved by the A&P commission for a total of $71,891.
Union County covered the cost of $33,214 to ship the kiosks from Atlanta, Georgia to El Dorado.
The second stage of the master plan proposes a new baseball field for older teenagers and adults.
The field could be built on more than eight acres of land that was donated to the resort by PotlatchDeltic, resort commissioners said.
The property is adjacent to South Fields.
Parking improvements and a recreational pathway are also planned for Phase 2.
On May 6, Harrison presented the commissioners with grant options available through the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism’s Outdoor Recreation Grant Program.
Harrison said a survey of the land donated by Potlatch is expected to be cleared this week.
Commissioner and El Dorado City Council member Avo Vartenian suggested the group pursue the search for all applicable grants, with one caveat.
“I’m making this motion pending the results of the investigation…so we can see exactly where the footpath will land,” Vartenian said.
The group is also working to begin a feasibility study for phase two of the master plan – a process that will consider other potential funding sources.