The Hiawatha City Commission met on Monday evening, and the group heard from Noel Boye, Curt Weldon and Ryan Meininger of the Hiawatha Baseball and Softball Club on a proposed new baseball complex at Noble Park.
The plan for the Hiawatha Championship Sports Complex would include phased construction of a new indoor baseball facility, a new softball field at the park, as well as improvements to the existing Paul Rockey Field over the next few years.
The group, along with representatives of Meriden, Kansas’s Mammoth Sports Construction presented their proposal to the commission, with the idea that the community, the city and the school district would be strong partners in pushing the project to completion. The planning group put forward a request for a 50-year lease of the land, as well as a waiver of sewer and water fees the proposed building, as well as permission to tie into the city’s electrical services. Given the successful completion of the project, a donation of $10,000 per year starting in 2025 will also be requested.
The expected cost to get the indoor facility, which can be used for a plethora of events by the city and school, as well as by the community, is around $300,000 for the roughly 9,000 square foot building, and the foundation hopes that achieving that early goal in time for next year’s baseball season will rally support around the rest of the project. The initial goal is the granting of the lease so the group can move forward with seeking donations, while they are also slated to speak to the USD 415 School Board in April to gauge their interest in the project.
The speakers lauded the potential multi-use capabilities of the facility, and the revenue such a building could bring to town, citing nearby communities with similar complexes, and also noted the visual appeal of a full fledged baseball complex in such a visible location. The commission gave positive remarks on the idea and asked the group to bring back concrete numbers to the next meeting before they would consider a vote.
In other business:
The commission also heard from Hiawatha Hospital CEO John Broberg, who presented a financial review, while also addressing the mask mandate and COVID-19 vaccinations. Broberg stated that 900 first doses of vaccines have been administered and 200 second doses.
Morrill Public Library Director Erin Verbick was also present to discuss updates at the libarary.
Approved at the meeting was a new Charter Ordinance that will move meetings from the 1st, 3rd and 5th Mondays of the month to the 2nd and 4th, in order to avoid more major holidays. The new ordinance will take effect in mid-May.
The group also approved a bid from Rainbow Fireworks in the amount of $14,500 to provide this year’s 4th of July fireworks for the city.
Also approved were requests presented by City Administrator Mike Nichols, including permission to burn a field, as well as to burn corn husks out the fences at Bruning Park, as well as a request to add rock to the alley behind the library at a cost of $775.
The commission approved the Consent Agenda, which included utility refunds of $95.24, payment to BT&CO in the amount of $9,650, payment to Olsson in the amount of $5,483.15, a payment to the Frances Plamman Charitable Trust in the amount of $10,053, and payments to the Kansas State Treasurer of $3,468.75 and $72,145.