AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – As the city of Amarillo’s Parks and Recreation Department continues to lay out the future vision of its various sports complexes and athletic facilities through a study approved by the Amarillo City Council in November, a conversation surrounding the status of the department’s field lighting ramped back up during Tuesday’s regular meeting of the City Council.
This comes after numerous department-centered conversations have turned toward its future, coming after Amarillo residents voted down a tax-related measure in November 2021 that, if passed, would have given the Parks and Recreation Department more funds to work with in terms of necessary improvements and additions.
Since that measure failed, officials have continued those conversations surrounding potential adjustments and closures to parks within the department. However, the department is looking to the future with its study of sports complexes, looking at how the redevelopment of the athletic complexes could impact the city as a whole.
One of the items involved in the redevelopment of these complexes includes the status of the field lighting at numerous parks and facilities throughout the department. Michael Kashuba, the director of the city’s parks and recreation department, said during the meeting that the conversation returned, in light of the loss of additional light poles because of recent wind, including one at John Stiff Park.
“This is a conversation that’s been going on for a while. With our asset management plan, it was identified as an issue. It was discussed at length during our budget process with the council,” Kashuba said. “But, the reason we brought it up today is we’ve lost some additional poles with the recent winds. We just wanted to revisit the conversation about the condition of those poles and just some of the challenges we face as a department.”
According to data presented by the department during the meeting, officials listed out the facilities that are in need of improvements for field lighting, as well as cost estimates for the projects The cost estimates do not include the costs for lighting sports courts or other general park lighting:
- El Alamo, $330,000;
- John Stiff Softball Complex, $1.34 million;
- John Stiff Soccer Fields, $1.02 million;
- Martin Road Complex, $980,000;
- Rick Klein Complex, $860,000;
- River Road Softball Fields, $770,000;
- Southeast Soccer Complex, $960,000;
- Southeast Softball complex, $1.01 million;
- Thompson Park softball fields, $430,000.
Initial cost estimates were also presented regarding the replacement lighting at the Amarillo National Tennis Center, located at 5000 Bell St. Those cost estimates include:
- Indoor courts, $100,000;
- Outdoor Courts Retrofit, $300,000;
- Outdoor Pickleball Courts, $160,000.
Many of the poles were first installed in the 1970s, Kashuba said, outliving its initial life expectancy. The goal is to have a complete remodel of the system, including new poles, new transformers and the reworking of the entire electrical system.
The new field lights are a priority for the department, bringing more opportunities for economic development for the city of Amarillo as a whole, Kashuba said.
“It gives you the opportunity to host more tournaments. We’ve had a lot of inconsistent lighting, so at some of our ballfields, the lights will just randomly turn off. It not only provides that consistency for the user, but it also provides an opportunity to do more economic development,” he said. “When we host those bigger tournaments, and those associations we work with, they use almost every field that we own as a city. So, making sure that we retain that capacity for those associations and also from an economic standpoint for the city.”
Kashuba previously told MyHIghPlains.com that the overall sports complex redevelopment study is expected to end in March, giving the department a clearer idea of the potential of these complexes, and the price tag that would go along with the redevelopment. From there, the department board, along with other city officials, will evaluate how to move forward with the projects.