County leaders have long been mulling over an ambitious multimillion dollar plan to expand Morgan’s recreation facilities.
Now, a $19 million expansion project will be decided by the Morgan County Board of Commissioners, who are slated to discuss, and possibly vote, on the project at a special-called meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 9 a.m. The discussion and vote will take place publicly, but there will not be an official public hearing on the matter before the vote.
Originally, county leaders were hoping to put the $19 million rec expansion project on the ballot as a referendum question to gauge the public’s support, but the state denied the county’s request.
Earlier this year, the county held a series of Town Hall meetings to inform the public about the project and receive feedback. Now, the county is ready to decide on how best to move forward.
According to County Manager Adam Mestres, the county is exploring the various funding options at their disposal, including using capital fund reserves, SPLOST and TSPLOST, but assured that raising property taxes would not be an option to fund the rec expansion.
“Raising the millage rate is not a funding option,” said Mestres. “We do not plan on funding this with a millage rate increase.”
The proposed plan calls for five multipurpose fields for baseball, softball and other sports, with one field designated as a custom-designed special needs field, along walking trails, greenspace and a 40,000-square-foot community center with six basketball courts, pickleball courts, gymnasiums, an indoor walking track, and a large balcony for community events. All of this would be built on a lot near the Soccer Complex on Old Buckhead Road, the first phase of the recreation expansion plan.
“This new plan is phase two,” said Lance Alexander, director of Morgan County’s Recreation Department, earlier this year. “Our desire is for our leaders to figure out the funding for this without affecting people’s property taxes. We are trying to keep everybody in the loop and be transparent on everything.”
Alexander noted that the county’s current facilities, especially for basketball, are outdated and overcrowded, unable to accommodate all the local sports teams wanting to use them.
“The community center we have right now is a failing facility that was built in 1980,” said Alexander. “We have more than 40 youth and adult basketball teams to schedule and that is becoming harder and harder to do as our numbers escalate each year.”
Mestres pointed to the high demand for quality recreation facilities that grows each and every year in Morgan County.
“Our programming numbers for each sport are consistently higher than the season before. We believe that adding additional athletic fields, basketball/multi-purpose gyms, an indoor walking track, additional activity rooms, as well as passive recreational activities will support in meeting the increasing demands on our recreational resources.”
According to Alexander, Morgan County’s recreational services are a pivotal component to the citizens’ quality of life.
“Recreation things are done for fun and enjoyment outside of work. It provides people with an outlet to do the things they love right in their hometown, whether it’s playing sports, walking along trails, enjoying scenic greenspace,” said Alexander. “We are trying our best to supply that for our citizens so they always have that outlet to decompress, unwind and have a better quality of life. That’s why it’s important.”
The Morgan County Board of Commissioners Special Called meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 9 a.m. will be held on the second floor of the County Administration Building, located at 150 East Washington Street.