Cost estimates are climbing for Eagle ball fields complex move |

Cost estimates are climbing for Eagle ball fields complex move

EAGLE, Colorado – The long-anticipated Eagle ball fields complex move may take even longer as a result of cost estimates for the project.

During a Tuesday work session, the Eagle County commissioners learned the current estimate for the project is $5.7 million for phased construction of a new Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District baseball/soccer field complex at the Eagle County Fairgrounds. Construction of the new fields, which will be located in a previously mined area south of the existing complex and closer to the Eagle River, would be spread out over three years and is slated to begin during the summer of 2012.

However, the county has already negotiated a deal with LaFarge – the company that plans to mine the gravel that lies beneath the existing fields – to pay $3.9 million for the field relocation. The gap between what LaFarge has agreed to pay and the current cost estimate was the focus of Tuesday’s discussion.

County construction manager Rick Ullom said the current phasing plan would be to build the first field, located at the westernmost part of the new site, during the summer of 2012. The following year, two playing fields, parking and support buildings would be built. The final multiuse field would be built in 2014.

The existing WECMRD complex would remain in operation until all of the new fields are completed, Ullom said.

“Right now, it looks like our funding gap is somewhere in the area of $1.3 million to $1.8 million,” Ullom said.

Commissioner Jon Stavney asked if some of those additional costs are tied to upgrades at the new facility – items such as batting cages and synthetic turf – that were requested by WECMRD and will be paid for by the rec district. Ullom said that is part of the issue, but overall, there is an approximate $1.5 million estimated shortfall.

Commissioner Peter Runyon said that when the county and LaFarge negotiated a price for the ball field move, the goal was to have the company contribution pay the entire tab for the relocation cost.

“That’s not what’s happened,” Runyon said. “That doesn’t mean I want to kill this.”

However, he said the county needs to take a hard look at the cost estimate and figure out a way to cut back the funding gap.

Stavney questioned whether spreading the project out over three years was cost effective. He said that with the national economic slowdown, LaFarge is in no hurry to begin mining under the existing fields and asked if the county would be better off simply delaying the construction for one summer.

As the county refines its schedule and budget for the ball-fields move, representatives will talk with potential partners such as WECMRD and the town of Eagle to see if there is any opportunity to share the cost of the project.

Support Local Journalism