Two projected construction projects and one request for the naming of a street were the topics of discussion at the city council work session on Tuesday, Jan. 10. Representatives from the Evanston Outlaws Baseball team and from the Evanston Child Development Center (ECDC) were present to provide updates on their projects. Kristina and Rod Ruiz attended the work session to request the city consider allowing them to name the street that enters into their property.
Director of Engineering and Planning Dean Barker was first to address the council regarding the construction project at the Evanston Overthrust Complex Ball Field 1 improvement project.
“You were given a copy of the proposed design plan,” Barker told the council, “The plan includes moving the field back ten feet, new sod, new light poles, press box, moving the fence back and more. We are here to discuss the estimated cost and look at possible solutions.”
Matt Morrow and Cody Moore, representing the Outlaws baseball team, were present to answer questions and present the plan.
Morrow, president of the Outlaws, said, “Currently, field one does not meet the Wyoming Baseball Commission regulations for a baseball field. They will let us use it for our games this year but unless we bring it up to code by 2024, they will not sanction games here and that will put us in limbo as to where we can play home games. We may have to play all our games on the road.”
When asked why they can’t use the Evanston high school fields, Morrow said that the high school field is also set up for softball and does not meet the regulations. Also, the state is pushing EHS to add a girls softball team and the field would then be used more. Morrow said it is impossible to convert the field back and forth between the different requirements for softball and baseball.
The statement provided the council showed the estimated cost for the ballfield improvement project totaled $460,833.22. This included the design services, construction observation, construction items and a 15% contingency on the subtotal of construction items.
Morrow explained the amount they had previously estimated, when they first approached the council two years ago, had increased substantially due to inflation and the rise in cost of materials and construction.
Mayor Williams said, “The bottom line is where do we get the money for this project. It would have to be a general fund expenditure and we are limited there.”
Morrow responded that the tournaments would bring in not only players but whole families and the hotels and restaurants would benefit. It would be a boost to the city’s economy and they could hold more than one tournament a year.
Council member Jen Hegeman added that many vendors could set up around the field and that would also be an economic benefit. She asked if there were any scholarships to colleges for the players involved.
Morrow answered that one to two players are sent to the National playoffs every year and are seen by scouts there.
Cody Moore asked, “Could we use the city grant writer to assist us in finding available grants? We know nothing about how to research for grants.”
Morrow added that the Outlaws have lots of local sponsors, businesses and corporations, but most are tapped out.
Mayor Williams said the council needed time to explore options and asked Morrow to keep in touch.
ECDC Executive Director Kendra West told the council they were ready to start on phase two of their building project. She said ECDC is growing and adding employees and students. Currently, West said they have 84 employees, provide health care and are serving 500 students. They provide training for young mothers, help them access educational opportunities and grow toward self-sufficiency.
“We have had to revamp our plans for phase two due to not receiving some funding we were hoping to get,” West said. “Also, prices on materials have increased and there is a shortage of construction workers. However, we gained a money market tax credit worth $8 mil which provides us with a loan of $1.5 million. We only have to pay the interest and after seven years the loan is forgiven.”
The plans have shrunk down from adding four classrooms and four storage rooms to now only adding two of each. The plans still include a public restroom and finishing the lobby area. The plan does allow for future expansion by placing sod in a playground area.
Hegeman asked, “Could you postpone phase two until the economy crumples, as it will, and costs go down?”
ECDC Business Director Melynda Epperson answered that they could not wait as the option for the money market tax credit opportunity would close by March.
Superintendent Chris Hansen with the construction company Stout LLC , which is working on the construction project at ECDC, told the council that the construction on phase two would begin in four to six weeks, in February, as the end of February would be the requirement of startup for the tax credit loan.
West said what they needed from the city was a letter stating that ECDC is in good standing and has no liabilities.
Last to address the council was Kristina and Rod Ruiz who own a two-lot subdivision at the end of Lombard Street and 6th Street.
Director of Engineering AND Planning Dean Barker explained where the two lots are located, there are two houses below it with addresses on 7th Street and one house above the lots with a 6th Street address. There has never been a name on the access street to the Ruiz subdivision. He said years ago, in the 1970s, there was a trailer court there. The Ruizes have already been approved for the subdivision.
Rod Ruiz told the council they want to name the street Providence Way in memory of Kristina’s deceased father who was in the Navy and served on the ship Providence. He added the ship is no longer in service. Barker said he didn’t see the state having any concerns about the name Providence for the street.
It was decided that an ordinance would be drawn up and a public hearing held at a regular meeting to give anyone in the neighborhood a chance to voice any concerns.