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Multi-million dollar sports complex proposed by council

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Mayor: ‘This is what our citizens want’

The Ellis County Press

FERRIS – A much-heated banter arose during Monday night’s council meeting while Von Gallagher, of Gallagher Construction Services, gave his presentation regarding the Mutz Park Project, a $5 million baseball park envisioned by the council.

Gallagher brought in two concepts.

One, which costs $3.7 million and the second, which is favored by the majority of the council and Mayor Jim Parks Jr., which costs roughly $5.2 million.

Concept 2 features three rest rooms, spacious concrete parking and six fields.

When Councilman Billy Dunn raised the question if the asphalt paved parking was really needed since "kids going to a park don’t really care about concrete parking," Councilman Gary Ross said, "let’s ask them, let’s ask them."

While the mayor was claiming his priority and the citizens was a ball field, Dunn exclaimed "We got a T-bone appetite and a hamburger pocketbook."

"My sole purpose is the ball fields, not the new library that wasn’t even mentioned, not the city hall, my priority and the citizens was a ball field," said Parks.

Councilwoman Carol Wright believes a ball field would be nice, as long as "we stay within what we can afford to build."

"We need upgrades for the city and I am all for it, I just think we need to be reasonable with the taxpayers and $5 million for an athletic field or baseball diamond isn’t reasonable," said Wright.

The funding for this planned project hasn’t been discussed.

"We will probably hold a bond election and advertise with the papers and let everyone know like we should," said City Secretary Pat Bradley.

No action was taken, but Gallagher was asked to bring a third concept for presentation.

The plans would be broken up into three phases of building to make it more affordable.

Councilman Rick Barrett raised the question if less bathrooms were added, would it meet state requirements since there would be a larger crowd with a bigger facility.

"I will check and have one more design, still work in progress," said Gallagher.

While it’s still unclear on funding or even large support on the project, Dunn is still concerned about just "allocating all the money to just one location."

In other business, budget items included spending taxpayers dollars on a simple open records request for a title.

When Wright brought up why it cost the city $150 just for "available public information," Dunn replied someone still would "have to go all the way to the courthouse and look at the files."

Former City Manager David Chavez going away reception was paid for as well with taxpayer dollars.

" I don’t know [why we used taxpayers dollars for that] we had $400 budgeted and so we just used some of that," said Bradley.


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