Parks and Rec director hopes to start moving dirt in November
The city of Laurel has approved a proposal to build an eight-field softball complex, and plans are being made to begin construction later on this year.
“It’s been a long process of getting all the necessary permits to make this happen,” said Elvin Ulmer, director of the Laurel Parks and Recreation Department. “But to make a long story short, we should be moving dirt in November.”
The complex will be built alongside the original Laurel Sportsplex on Highway 84 West, using funds from the same 2-cent tourism tax that helped fund the Sportsplex 21 years ago. The first penny of the tourism tax was scheduled to roll off in 2017, but the Attorney General’s Office agreed to maintain the 2-cent tax in order to raise funds for softball facilities to be added at the same location.
“We’ve never been able to offer girls’ softball here because we’ve never had an official softball complex,” said Ulmer. “We’ve tried to host softball tournaments in the past on our baseball fields, but our Dixie Youth baseball program is one of the largest in the state, and they keep those fields pretty tied up, so it’s been an ongoing process. But now we’re going to be able to take care of our softball people as well.”
The new complex will be comprised of eight fields. Four will be built at a 300-foot length to accommodate adult leagues, and the other four will be 220 feet in distance for youth leagues. The city plans to organize leagues for men, women, children, co-eds, churches and even industrial teams. The facilities will also be used to host larger tournaments comprised of teams from other areas.
“This will be a state-of-the-art facility,” said Ulmer. “It’s going to probably end up being roughly a $7 million complex that will be an attractive destination for both locals and tourists.”
Once construction is under way, the department will have a better idea of when the facilities will be ready to open for the public, and their goal is to already have the first year booked with tournaments and other events.
Ulmer said the department often received phone calls requesting for them to host tournaments and travel ball events, but they have just never had the right amount of space to accommodate those requests.
“All that is fixing to change,” he said. “I’ve told them to give us a little bit because we’re working on it. We’re about to be able to bring a lot of people to the city of Laurel.”