City Gets First Look at Designs for Proposed Ackerman Recreation Complex

The community got our first look last week at the Ackerman Recreation Complex, a proposed complex of multi-use sports fields and courts that would be built behind Lee Elementary and the Ackerman Center through a collaboration between the city of Canby and Canby School District.

Mayor Brian Hodson presented a series of designs to the Canby City Council at last week’s meeting, all of which were prepared by Cameron McCarthy, a consulting firm hired by the city to complete a feasibility study. The designs varied, but all contained some mix of 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.

The designs also included a mix of grass fields and artificial turf, which is much more expensive to install, but can be used year-round. Mayor Hodson explained that the Ackerman complex task force and the consultants made great effort to include as wide a range of potential uses and users as possible.

Councilor Greg Parker, who is a member of the task force, says he was impressed with the variety of depth of experience among the community members who are looking at this project. There are a number of different ways to approach an undertaking of this magnitude, he says, but the first question is always the same: “What’s the first question going to be?”

The Canby School District also reviewed the proposed designs last week, as did the task force and Canby Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

The potential cost of the Ackerman project was barely touched on last Wednesday, but it looks to be substantial. Hodson said the turf costs alone for one of the proposed designs clocked in at about $1.8 million.

That subject of money will likely be revisited at much greater length during the council’s next meeting on April 3, when the intergovernmental agreement between the city and Canby School District is scheduled to be discussed. The IGA is a crucial piece of the puzzle. In fact, it’s not an exaggeration to say the entire project depends on it.

Hammering out the details between the two government entities is expected to take several months, but if they can come to terms, the IGA could be finalized and signed by the end of August. If everything goes according to the current plan, the sparkling new Ackerman Recreation Complex may host its first soccer tournament in the fall of 2020.

And, there may be even more in the works. The nearby Ackerman Center was once a middle school, but district projections suggest it won’t be needed for that purpose in the foreseeable future. Could it, perhaps, be better utilized as the community center Canby residents have been wanting for years? It’s “not an out-of-the-question conversation,” according to Mayor Hodson, something that Councilor Sarah Spoon found exciting.

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