Improvement projects on hold for Cargill, other Shreveport parks - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Improvement projects on hold for Cargill, other Shreveport parks

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Cargill Sports Complex in Shreveport waits on over $1 million in upgrades. (Photo: Erin Buchanan) Cargill Sports Complex in Shreveport waits on over $1 million in upgrades. (Photo: Erin Buchanan)
(Photo source: Erin Buchanan/KTBS 3 News) (Photo source: Erin Buchanan/KTBS 3 News)
(Photo source: Erin Buchanan/KTBS 3 News) (Photo source: Erin Buchanan/KTBS 3 News)

 Nearly thirty years old, and still in the same basic condition as when it was first built.

Cargill Sports Complex on Lotus Lane in Shreveport is showing its age, and those who use the facility are pleading for upgrades.

"If [a rock] hits somebody in the face, you're talking about a big cut, missing teeth, black eye."

Jason Cappers and his wife, Brittney, have been playing softball at the park for the last six years.

The couple says the issues at Cargill are more than just an eye sore, they're a serious safety concern, though SPAR's Athletic Division tells KTBS 3 News that they've documented no increase in any injuries directly related to field conditions.

"I had a huge gash inside my lip on the bottom and my tooth is still sore, I can't bite down,” says Brittney of an injury she says she sustained from rocks that hadn’t been removed from the softball field.

Rocks left in the dirt, softball fields that don't drain, bathrooms that have seen better days.

Those make up just a fraction of the upgrades that need to be done, but as with many stalled projects, funding woes stand in the way.

"When we originally made our bond schedule, or project schedule, we sold in the first sale, design money. And so we've got projects that are designed and ready to go, but we do not have the construction funding,” says Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation (SPAR) Director Shelly Ragle.

Ragle says Cargill is the largest on a list of park projects that makes up an ordinance introduced by District B City Councilman Jeff Everson.

"What I've done is offered an ordinance that would shift around some available funds to get those projects moving faster. It's in the plans to do these projects already," says Everson.

The ordinance would move $1,350,000 from current projects funded through the General Operating Budget, to complete work at Cargill, plus another $6.1 million to other parks and community center projects that are severely overdue for facility upgrades.

"As we hear from residents in the communities,” Everson says, “these projects really need to happen and they're ready to see construction.”

Residents like CABOSA President Jeff Wellborn, who oversees a soccer association that currently enrolls nearly 3,000 kids.

All of those kids - plus another 300 adults - play on Cargill's 13 soccer fields, fields that Wellborn describes as nearing a critical stage of necessary maintenance.

"The clock is ticking, so to speak, because this is prime growing season and it gets to be pretty crucial that certain things are done with the fields."

Wellborn says the soccer fields are in desperate need of regular maintenance. The fields need top dressing and aeration of the soil to loosen the ground.

Without that, Wellborn says the fields won't be usable much longer. He estimates the cost to be about $15,000 a year to complete the process properly, but he says it's a cost that's well worth it.

CABOSA also chips in about $12,000 a year to SPAR for their extensive use of the fields.

Additionally, Wellborn says the organization has already taken over its own mowing, but that's only a small component of the bigger picture.

Having access to a properly maintained facility the size of Cargill is about more than just the sport.

"Cities do have quality of life components like parks and youth sports, especially for young families, and that's hugely important for communities," Wellborn says.

For now, though, all of the park projects sit in the dugout, as local teams wait for a funding home run.

Everson's ordinance was tabled for a second time at Tuesday's city council meeting.

He says they're working to ensure the projects in the General Operating Budget are completed properly, before moving money to parks.

Funding set aside for other park/community center projects in Everson’s ordinance include:

Valencia Park Community Center: $1,485,000

Hattie Perry Park: $1,350,000

Mamie Hicks: $675,000

Bilberry Park Gym: $1,125,000

C.C Antoine Park: $116,100

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