City Calls ‘Time Out’ on Proposed Ackerman Recreation Complex

Plans for the Ackerman Recreation Complex, a proposed complex of multi-use sports fields and courts behind Lee Elementary and the Ackerman Center, will be put on hold for the time being, Mayor Brian Hodson informed city councilors at their last meeting.

It’s an ambitious project, with plans for baseball, softball, rugby, soccer, football and lacrosse fields; basketball, tennis and pickleball courts, a pedestrian walking trail, restrooms and concession stands, maintenance facilities and over 100 new parking spaces. And, until recently, it had an equally ambitious timeline, with staff representing the city and school district expected to spend much of this summer hammering out the intergovernmental agreement that would govern the use of the complex.

But, when the estimated costs came out in May, it seemed to take some of the wind out of the project proponents’ sails. The city reportedly has several million saved up in an SDC fund for a major park project, but that came nowhere close to consultants’ price tag for the Ackerman project: $13 to $14 million.

Even Mayor Hodson admits the estimated costs were “…higher” than he expected.

It’s not only the cost that’s at issue, Mayor Hodson explained. The Canby School Board has two new members, Dawn Depner and Stefani Carlson, which he says has “changed some of the dialogue” around the district’s future plans for the Ackerman building.

The building is a critical piece of the puzzle, as some would love to see it transformed into the community center Canby residents say has been needed for years, and at one point, school district officials seemed open to that discussion.

For now, the ball is in the school district’s court, so to speak. Meanwhile, Mayor Hodson and others are working to solve the problem of funding the project. He said a discussion about funding will be set for a future meeting of the Canby City Council.

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