Olentangy Valley News

Township acts on donor-funded softball fields


Liberty Township trustees approved contracts last week in preparation for an anonymous cash donation that could be large enough to build a softball complex at South Liberty Park.

The anonymous donor approached the township through the Columbus Foundation earlier this year. Trustees in May approved a $4,000 contract with MS Consultants to complete a concept plan proposal for the park that could feature four fields, a snack bar, bleachers, lights and a scoreboard.

On Aug. 7, trustees approved another $14,660 contract with J&D Turf to act as field specialists and project managers during the construction of the complex.

Township Administrator Dave Anderson said that by moving forward with the service agreements, the donor officially will commit the funds. Once that happens, work could start on the project as early as the fall, he said.

"If someone's willing to put this much money in your community, I say we get started as soon as possible," Anderson said while presenting the resolution to the trustees.

Although it's unsure how much the donor is willing to contribute, he said it could be close to $250,000.

To pay for the upfront costs, the township has been pulling from the YMCA site funds, which can be used only to improve or maintain the property.

The agreement with Indiana-based J&D Turf spells out that from August 2013 to September 2014, it will devote an estimated 92 hours to the project at $105 per hour. Each time a J&D Turf representative travels to the site, the township will incur a $210.56 charge for mileage.

"I find it hard to believe that we can't find a specialist that is closer," said Trustee Melanie Leneghan, who said she wouldn't approve the agreement unless travel was capped at $5,000.

"I'd rather get quality up front," Anderson said of why J&D Turf was chosen.

The company completed work on Huntington Park in Columbus and currently is constructing nearly 30 fields at Grant Park in Indiana.

Trustee Curt Sybert agreed to the travel cap and the changes were approved. Trustee Mary Carducci was absent.

Anderson said that while dirt is being moved around at South Liberty Park, the township likely will take the opportunity to make way for a bike path connection and other additions that originally were planned for the site.