Mayor Shares Estimated Costs for Ackerman Complex as Talks between City, School District Continue

For several months now, the city of Canby, the Canby School District and a task force made up of various community members have been working with a team of consultants to analyze the feasibility of a proposed recreation complex of multi-use sports fields and courts that would be built behind Lee Elementary and the Ackerman Center.

The Ackerman Recreation Complex would be one of the most ambitious and unique public projects in Canby’s history, uniting two government entities in a partnership designed to deliver a huge investment in the community, especially its youth and its future.

The city shared initial design concepts for the complex in late March, all containing 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.

It would involve multiple phases, and if the idea of some new softball or soccer fields doesn’t get your heart pumping with excitement, it’s also possible that this partnership may ultimately include turning the Ackerman building into the community center that families and youth advocates in Canby have been calling for for years.

The dream is very enticing. But the devil is in the details, as they say, and one major detail that hadn’t yet been discussed at any great length was the cost. That changed this past week, when Mayor Brian Hodson presented to the City Council some preliminary cost estimates for the Ackerman Recreation Complex.

The figure, I think it’s fair to say, raised some eyebrows when Mayor Hodson shared it Wednesday night.

For those of you who don’t listen to the clips, that number was $13.5 million. Now, that would include everything for the Ackerman Recreation Complex, including contingency funds, and Mayor Hodson explained that the consultants had estimated high wherever possible.

The number may not be quite as scary as it sounds. City Administrator Rick Robinson said the costs can be reduced in a number of ways, through the magic of something he called “value engineering,” which seems to be a highly technical term meaning “being as cheap as possible.”

That would include saving some aspects of a project for a later phase, looking at alternate, less expensive materials for construction or even crowdsourcing out some aspects of the complex with volunteer labor.

Another possibility for helping with the costs could be corporate sponsorship. However, the next step is continuing discussions with the Canby School District about how the project could be funded, or if it’s even feasible. Another critical component is the intergovernmental agreement between the city and school district, which would lay out things like how the complex would be operated and maintained.

Meetings between staff and representatives of both bodies are currently scheduled for the 16th and 23rd of this month.

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