Business Community Lends Support to Sports Complex; Chamber Urges City, School District to Push Forward

The Canby business community does not want to see the city and school district give up on the Ackerman Recreation Complex. At least, not yet.

On several occasions, the city had discussed a proposed complex of multi-use sports fields and courts behind Lee Elementary and the Ackerman Center, with the possibility of also redeveloping Ackerman itself into some sort of community center.

The plans were to include baseball, softball, rugby, soccer, football and lacrosse fields; basketball, tennis and pickleball courts, along with a pedestrian walking trail. The city even hired a consultant to develop some initial design concepts and estimate potential costs.

That’s where the project lost some of its steam, when the price tag came back much higher than officials expected: $13 to $14 million.

Those who support the project have by no means abandoned the idea, but it’s simply not clear where the funding for such a project might come from. It could be included in a bond package that the school district may present next year, but a survey of likely voters last month indicated that might not be a good idea.

Those surveyed did like the idea of the sports complex, but they liked it much less than almost every other item that could be in the bond package, including technology and safety upgrades. And if the sports complex were included in the bond package, it would push the overall price tag upwards of $90 million — something a majority of respondents said they would vote against.

However, the board of directors for the Canby Area Chamber of Commerce had a simple message for both the city and the school district, delivered last week by Director Kyle Lang: Keep trying.

The business community getting behind youth sports is not really anything new for Canby. One of the more visible examples came in 2010, when a grassroots effort — led primarily by local businesses — raised almost a million dollars to install the artificial turf football field at Canby High School, but there have been many others.

But Lang said there are also pragmatic reasons for business owners to support this project, including the possibility that it could help attract new companies to Canby.

Lang concluded by encouraging the city council and school board to “come to the table” in a good faith effort to realize the ambitious project. Coming to the table is certainly an appropriate message for the Thanksgiving season.

And with the holidays just around the corner, hey — you never know. A miracle just might happen.

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