Ottawa Hills will seek bids for planned renovations at Geresy Field, marking a step toward the improvement of all athletic and recreational facilities around Ottawa Hills Local Schools.
Mayor Kevin Gilmore said a second step is possible with a proposed 99-year lease from the board of education for the recreational fields at the elementary school.
He said the terms of the lease should be sufficient for the village to commit funds toward improvements to the fields.
"We're having the lease reviewed now with the expectation that we can sign the lease,'' and that improvements can begin this year.
If that takes place, it will break a year-long impasse that stalled planned work on the grounds.
Last year, the village committed about $570,000 for work on the fields around the school, but efforts came to a halt when an agreement could not be reached on how the village might secure their investment.
Council sought a condition that the property would become the village's if the improvements to the fields were not maintained.
School board officials said they couldn't agree to those terms and no work was done.
At the most recent meeting of Village Council, school board member Dan Steinberg said he was launching two fund-raising campaigns in an attempt to get money for additional work on the school football stadium and for other work on athletic and recreational facilities.
Mr. Steinberg said he thinks the fund-raising could take care of the entire bill.
Although he is a board of education member, Mr. Steinberg said he was acting primarily as a member of the community in setting up a Complete The Dream committee.
One of his efforts is aimed at former members of the Ottawa Hills football team, and a separate, but similar, plea will be made to the public.
He said that if enough money is raised, it could make the proposed lease a moot point.
Mr. Gilmore, however, said he considers the lease a serious proposal and one that can result in work beginning on the elementary fields.
Work at Geresy may cost as much as $470,000 and an additional $570,000 may be needed to improve the school grounds.
The mayor said the village intends to pay for the improvements to Geresy, but it is difficult to say how much it might pay toward improving the elementary grounds until firm proposals are received.
He said he welcomes Mr. Steinberg's efforts and that funds raised will help complete the projects.
Mr. Steinberg noted that private contributions were responsible for about $200,000 worth of improvements to the football stadium, including a new concession stand with rest rooms.
The facility will be available for those who are at the school's recreational fields, he noted.
Work scheduled for those approximately 5 acres includes reconfiguring ball diamonds to eliminate the overlap of outfields and for work on the ground itself.
Residents have said that its bumps and ruts can make it unplayable after a rain because of the length of time it takes for puddles to dry. They have also complained about the dusty conditions after a few days without rain.
In addition to a thorough reworking of the surface, it is proposed that irrigation and drainage systems be installed.
Although the property is owned by the schools, board of education officials have stressed that much of its use is for community sports and recreation not affiliated directly with the school.
The biggest single change contemplated at Geresy Field is the construction of a grandstand with permanent seating behind home plate and down the first and third base lines.
There will be rest rooms at ground level and a press box above the spectators.
Plans also include an irrigation system that will allow misting of the infield, batting cages and bullpen areas.
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