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Council hears about need for sports complex

When the Fredericktown City Council met for its regular monthly meeting recently the group listened to residents discuss the need for a sports complex.

Dozens of citizens turned out, leaving few open seats and several people standing near the door. The group came before the council to express the need for more facilities for baseball and softball teams to play, as there is currently too little space for the number of teams in the county.

Specifically, the group expressed a desire to continue a plan initiated several years ago to construct a sports complex in Fredericktown.

April Sarakas addressed the council on behalf of the group. She said she’s involved with several leagues, and is familiar with how difficult it is to secure facilities for practice and play.

“We speak to you tonight on behalf of athletes, coaches, parents, league officials, civic groups, the park board, the IDA Board, the Lions Club, county officials and anyone who has had a child participate in our baseball or softball programs,” Sarakas said.

The spokesperson said that almost four years ago an agreement was made to use city and county funds to construct a sports complex in the city, but it seems that project has gone by the wayside.

“When the new season begins we will have 69 teams and approximately 828 athletes fighting for space for practice to prepare for the upcoming season,” Sarakas said.

She said the frustration of finding practice time for athletes causes parents to remove their students from local programs and place them in athletic programs elsewhere with more practice space.

“This complex is not a luxury, but purely a necessity,” Sarakas said. “With the combined effort between city, county and community leaders, this goal can and must be accomplished. Properly operated, the sports complex will generate revenue to support itself and bring people into our community, spending money in our town.”

Fredericktown Mayor Kelly Korokis said that she agrees with the importance of the sports complex project.

“I wholeheartedly agree,” Korokis said. “This is my number one project, honestly. It’s just getting the funds to get it started. We have the drawings and the place where we want it to go, but starting is very slow.”

City Administrator Doug Friend suggested setting up a meeting with himself, representatives of the concerned group, and county officials to brainstorm.

“It really does come down to a new revenue stream that can be targeted toward a pledge that the county commission made four or five years ago,” Friend said. “If we can wrap our heads around it, get momentum and a tax initiative or whatever — it’s probably going to take something like that and it’s going to take a lot of local support.”

Ward II Alderman Rick Polete said the city and county may need to get work started to attract further investors.

“I think when you guys meet, one of the goals we need to accomplish is how we can get started moving dirt on this project this year,” Polete said. “Like you said, it’s been four years already. So not only do we need to figure out how to do it, but we need to figure out how to get started on it, preferably this year.”

The group thanked the council and filed out of the council meeting room to allow the council to continue its meeting.

April Sarakas addresses the Fredericktown City Council at their March meeting on behalf of a group concerned with the lack of progress on a sports complex that's been planned for four years.

April Sarakas addresses the Fredericktown City Council at their March meeting on behalf of a group concerned with the lack of progress on a sports complex that’s been planned for four years.

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