City asks for $1 million from county
Oxford officials are hopeful a new Activity Center that will be constructed next year will get a boost in funding from the county.
Public Works Director Bart Robinson and Oxford Park Commission Director Seth Gaines went before the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors Monday morning to seek participation on the project that is estimated to cost $7.75 million.
The city of Oxford has budgeted $7 million and Robinson said they were “looking for some additional funding” for the project in the amount of $1 million.
Robinson said the design of the project has not begun and a start date of June or July would be “optimistic.”
Robinson wasn’t expecting an answer from the board immediately but said “we need an answer the quicker the better” so the architect could begin the design process.
Last month, Pryor Morrow Architects presented three options to the OPC board to build another activity center that would be located next to the current facility.
Last week the OPC board met with a city-appointed committee to review the options.
The first option, Phase 1A, came under budget at $6.2 million and consisted of two large basketball courts with hardwood flooring that could be sectioned off to create four youth courts.
A 12-foot wide walking track was drawn above the courts. That option was a “bare bones” design, addressing the most immediate need for space but had no extra classroom space.
The Phase 1B option has an extended front area with a fitness room and lounge area. That option is estimated to cost $7,750,000.
The third option, or Phase 2, would extend the front even more and include four multi-use areas. That option is estimated to cost $10.5 million.
Mayor Pat Patterson informed the committee if they choose Phase 1B at $7.75 million, he was fairly sure the city could come up with the extra funds.
The OPC board voted to formally recommend the Phase 1B plan.
Robinson gave the supervisors a breakdown of total participation among local residents in programs at the Activity Center.
There were 465 who participated in youth basketball last year, with 99 percent of them being children in Lafayette County. Of that number 72 percent lived in Oxford. The summer day camp had to be cut off due to lack of space with 223 children participating. Of that number, 94 percent were from Lafayette County with
Gaines said when school is out, there is always a day camp going on at the activity center with participants be placed on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“It functions as a daycare,” Robinson said.
There were also 768 retirees who participated in the Leisure Lifestyle program in 2015 with 95 percent being Lafayette County residents.
Supervisor Chad McLarty asked if there would be a swimming pool, noting several constituents have asked him.
Gaines said there is no plan at this time for an indoor pool due to the cost.
“We’re looking at an additional four, five or six million dollars for a indoor pool to operate,” Gaines said. “Pools are really expensive.”
Gaines said the pool that was built in Tupelo, which is more than just an exercise pool, cost approximately $13 million.
Supervisor Kevin Frye asked if the local high schools have expressed an interest in an indoor pool. Both high schools currently use the Turner Center on the Ole Miss campus for their local meets. Gaines said the schools have not be formally approached but he’s sure they would enjoy an indoor pool facility. He added he would get estimates for a pool to present to the supervisors.
A formal recommendation of the project is expected to be made later this month to the Board of Aldermen.
Busby said what the city is asking for is not out of line. But the county has building projects of their own they must also address. The timing has made it difficult.
“It’s not unreasonable what they’re asking,” Busby said. “Nearly 40 percent of their participation is from kids outside the city limits of Oxford. I personally would love to give them the money. It comes down to priorities and right now it’s not high on our list in my opinion.”
He said a decision would come from the full board. Supervisor Mike Roberts was not in attendance due to an out-of-town commitment with Three Rivers Planning & Development District.
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