Foundation grants spur rec complex fundraising

August 29th, 2016

Dekko pledges $650K toward expansion project; Cole $250K

By Dennis Nartker | KPC Media 

KENDALLVILLE — The Kendallville Outdoor Recreation Complex has become a busy place for youth and adult baseball and soccer, horseshoe pitching, basketball, shuffleboard and playground fun since it opened in 2006.

Local and area youth and adult teams, clubs and organizations take advantage of the facility from March through October. The complex attracts regional and national tournaments on weekends.

The Kendallville Park Board acquired and developed the 89-acre site with the realization more ball fields may be needed in the future.

On Aug. 15, board members along with supporters relaunched a $2.9 million fundraising campaign to add more ball fields and a soccer field to the complex along Allen Chapel Road.

As of the end of last week, $650,000 had been pledged, along with a $250,000 matching grant from the Olive B. Cole Foundation and a $650,000 matching grant from the Dekko Foundation, according to Kevin Jansen, Park Board president.

Sept. 15 is the deadline for donations.

“We hope to break ground yet this year on Phase 2, but construction may begin next spring,” said Jansen, who is leading the fundraising effort.

This latest effort follows the fundraising campaign for the recreation complex’s first phase that resulted in $1.5 million for construction of athletic facilities, including a “pinwheel” of four adult-size softball fields, and $500,000 for an endowment.

Phase 2 fundraising also includes establishing an endowment for the complex at the Noble County Community Foundation.

“The groundwork that was completed in phase I gives us the advantage of already completing the site layout and planning stages,” according to a report about the proposed expansion prepared by Jansen and the Park Board’s fundraising committee.

The expansion project will be directed by city officials, and there won’t be a need to hire an outside contractor. “This gives us the advantage of using more funds to directly go to materials and construction,” the report states.

Presently, the complex includes the four softball fields, three soccer fields and other recreational offerings.

The Phase 2 expansion would include: four Little League-size baseball fields in a similar pinwheel design; a three-quarter-size soccer field; a new entrance sign; paved sidewalks connecting the two pinwheels and soccer fields; parking lot paving, striping and lighting; nature trails connecting to Bixler Lake Park to the west; and a “mobile amphitheater” for concerts and other events that could be used elsewhere in the city.

Creating Little League regulation ball fields will enable the complex to attract Little League-sanctioned tournaments, as well as providing local and area communities with Little League teams a place to practice and play games.

The four existing adult-size fields can be converted for youth play.

Construction estimates for the expansion, based on Phase 1 costs, are: approximately $1.1 million for the four youth ball fields, complete with fencing, lights, concession stand, restrooms and irrigation; approximately $619,000 for paving and striping all parking areas; approximately $358,000 for concrete sidewalks connecting complex areas and Bixler Lake Park; approximately $250,000 for the mobile amphitheater; $30,000 for the additional soccer field; $36,000 for the new entrance sign; and $500,000 for the endowment fund at the Noble County Community Foundation.

In addition to local and area foundation grants, the fundraising committee is looking for local and state funding for the Kendallville Outdoor Recreation Complex expansion, support from area businesses and service organizations, and individual contributions.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the fundraising effort can contact Jansen at 241-7446, the Kendallville Park and Recreation Department at 347-1064 or stop by the department’s offices in the Youth Center, 211 Iddings St.