Hilliard's plan to build a Miracle Field at the future Grener Sports Complex has been postponed -- but it might have a future in a nearby park that already is developed.
"Let's just wait," Hilliard City Council member Nathan Painter said Sept. 23 after Ed Merritt, director of the Hilliard Recreation and Parks Department, provided a report to council concerning the proposal for a Miracle Field or similar structure without the branding.
But council also introduced the possibility of building the handicap-accessible baseball diamond at Roger A. Reynolds Municipal Park, 3800 Veterans Memorial Drive.
Council member Pete Marsh said the city "wants to make sure we have the best location for the kids."
Earlier this year, Hilliard awarded a bid of $400,175 to Boss Excavating & Grading to install water and sewer lines at the Grener Sports Complex site, partly within a 103-acre parcel the city purchased in 2014 from the Hilliard City Schools for $4 million. The land is between Cosgray and Leppert roads, north of Scioto Darby Road, and the complex is expected to include several soccer and lacrosse fields and a Vertical Adventures rock- and rope-climbing facility. The facilities would be south of the Bo Jackson's Elite Sports facility at 4696 Cosgray Road, according to the city.
At the same time, Hilliard started soliciting bids for the construction of the Miracle Field while trying to meet a deadline to complete its construction by June 30, 2020, in order to receive a $400,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
But after receiving a one-year extension on that deadline -- to June 30, 2021 -- council members said they wanted to take time to decide the Miracle Field location, and they took the additional step of nixing the water-and-sewer-line project in order to complete a water and sewer master plan first.
Council members directed Albert Iosue, the city's public-services director, to withdraw the contract with Boss Excavating & Grading.
"Let's get the study done first," council member Les Carrier said.
Merritt identified two potential field sites in the municipal park: in front of concession buildings and between a pair of four-diamond fields.
A third possibility, and one included in the city's master plan, is in the northwest corner of the park, a proposal Painter said he wanted the city look at more closely.
Merritt's proposal also included concepts for the construction of a field using artificial turf or rubber tiles, which could be constructed for less cost than the proposed Miracle Field, Merritt said.
The city solicited bids for the Miracle Field in April and July, based on an engineer's estimate of $1.4 million, but it did not receive any bids either time.
Iosue suggested increasing the engineer's estimate to $1.85 million was prepared to rebid before council changed gears.
Specific vendors are required for construction of a Miracle Field, Merritt said.
A Miracle Field enables adults and children with a variety of physical or mental challenges to play baseball, including those organized by the Miracle League of Central Ohio, on a field that can accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.
One of the league's Miracle Fields is near Hilliard, at Darree Fields Park, 6259 Cosgray Road in Dublin.
In 2016, when Merritt was recreation supervisor for Grove City, he said the city opted to build the Grove City Dream Field in lieu of a branded Miracle Field.
Meanwhile, council on Sept. 23 approved a contract with Prime AE Group for $165,000 to perform a wastewater-capacity analysis.
The study "would determine where future development could occur" within the Big Darby Accord area and west to the Big Darby Creek that serves as the natural boundary between Franklin and Madison counties. Hilliard is one of the 10 local governments that created the Big Darby Accord in 2004 to preserve and protect the Big Darby Creek and its tributaries in western central Ohio, according to bigdarbyaccord.org.
Iosue said the study is critical because the city needs to identify its needs before asking the city of Columbus, the provider of water and sewer services, for additional capacity.
"(The study) will give us information as we plan for growth," council member Andy Teater said.