City Council Approves Lear Park Cuts - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/28/06-Longview

City Council Approves Lear Park Cuts

It seems the finishing touches to a huge sports complex in Longview are going to have to wait. Back in 2003, Longview voters approved a 9-million dollar Sports Tourism Center called Lear Park. Now, parts of Phase 4 have officially stalled, thanks to a decision made at Thursday's City Council meeting, but this means bad news for local tennis players.  

The Lear Park Sports Complex in Longview boasts numerous baseball, softball, and soccer fields..."we all want a world class park, complete with walking trails, tennis courts," says Mayor Jay Dean.

But because of a rise in construction costs, Mayor Dean says those walking trails and tennis courts aren't going to happen, at least for now. "What was originally estimated in 2003 just for Lear Park to be a 9-million dollar project, our low bid came in a 14.185 million dollars. And when you look at the amount of dollars that we still had left to use for the construction of Lear Park, we had to go back in a take a look at you know needs versus wants," he says.

That's why the city has decided to focus on certain parts of Phase Four. "That need is to get these boy baseball fields done so that we can start attracting tournaments...we take those revenues and continue to re-invest them back into the park so that we can catch up with some of the other things that we're putting off that this time."

But the idea of delaying the tennis complex has some upset. "Tennis courts seem to be the first thing cut out of every budget," says Judi Morgan with the Longview Tennis Association.

They say tennis, too, can bring in revenue. "It could be a good tourism draw if we could have the courts to host those kinds of tournaments," says Spring Hill Tennis Coach Holly Ford.

"I've been to tennis tournaments all over the state and tennis players do spend money," says Morgan.

But Mayor Dean says it's just not possible at this time. "The need right now is to get these baseballs fields done because that was the main ticket item on these parks."

Dean says they do plan to come back to the tennis courts, once they make money off the baseball fields.

Mayor Jay Dean says it could take at least 2 to 3 years before they can raise enough money to build the tennis courts, walking trail, and one of the soccer complex's parking lots. He says it all depends on the economy and construction costs.

Tracy Watler/Reporting: tracy@kltv.com.

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