EDMOND — Changes are coming for some 1,500 adult softball players who have been waiting more than 10 years for a new place to play their sport.
“There were too many delays,” said Jacky Muse, president of the Edmond Adult Softball Association. “The most frustrating thing was we had a date and then there would be a problem.
“It couldn't happen soon enough for us.”
The first shovels of dirt were turned Wednesday at groundbreaking ceremonies for the city's $5.7 million four-field softball complex and park improvements in Edmond's new community park being created at Post Road and State Highway 66.
The complex entrance will be four miles east of Interstate 35 on Second Street. The concessions and restrooms will have a Route 66 theme, similar to that of Pop's Restaurant, which is about a half-mile farther east.
Construction is expected to start next week and last for about a year. The fall softball season generally starts in late August. Muse said they might wait a few weeks next year to start the season on the new fields.
“We're excited,” Muse said. “This is going to be another gem for the city of Edmond. Let's play ball.”
Softball players have been using the Bickham Softball Complex, at Midwest Boulevard and Danforth Road, near the city's sewage treatment plant. There isn't space to expand at that location, and much of the site is located in the flood way, prohibiting additional construction.
Council members last month approved spending nearly $5.2 million for the complex, about $1.6 million more than originally budgeted. The money will come from the 2000 sales tax passed by voters for capital improvements.
Assistant City Manager Steve Commons said the cost could climb to $6 million by the time issues about the size of the lagoon, lighting and playground area are decided. Any additional money will come out of the park tax money.
The new softball fields will be built in the floodplain, an objective of Mayor Charles Lamb.
“It is an asset that we take advantage of this area,” Lamb said. “It is green space.”
The location was part of the reason for the delay, while city officials addressed the effect the new construction would have on the nearby flood way, Lamb said.
Edmond officials purchased 118 acres of land on the far eastern city limits for $1.5 million in 2007.
“We have been talking about this for 10 years,” said City Councilman Darrell Davis, a longtime member of the park and recreation board.
“It is a beautiful day in Oklahoma, and we are here.”
Harry Kocurek, parks and recreation board vice president, said, “The only day that will be better is when we pitch the first ball out here.”