The Dolores School Board is again seeking town support for a new sports complex at Joe Rowell Park for football, soccer and track.
Newly hired school Superintendent Lis Richard presented the concept on behalf of the school board to the Dolores Town Board Aug. 12.
“I’m probably the third superintendent to propose this,” she said. “It would enhance the town and be a collaborative effort between the school, town and Forest Service.”
The plan calls for a combined football and soccer field surrounded by an eight-lane competition track on the west side of the park, which is owned by Dolores. There would be grandstands, a scoreboard, concessionaire, handicapped-accessible bathrooms and parking.
Development of youth sports programs is also part of the proposal. Fees raised from the program and the concessionaire sales could help finance a position for town recreation director, Richard said.
A new pedestrian bridge that would cross the Dolores River to a potential nature preserve on San Juan National Forest land is also part of the vision. Federal grants are available for such projects.
Maintenance costs of the sports complex would be divided between the town and the school district, Richard said. The facilities would be available for town events and open to the general public.
The exact costs have not been determined, and fundraising would need to take place between various governments and organizations. If the town gave preliminary support, the school board is prepared to include the project in future budgets and upcoming grant-funding requests, Richard said.
She presented benefits of a community sports complex at the park.
First, the school board wants to move the current football field for safety reasons because of its exposure to a high bluff.
Second, it would open the door for more youth programs.
“There are hundreds of kids in town, and many go to Cortez to play sports,” she said. “This way, they can stay and play in town, and other teams would come here more.”
Youth soccer, Little League baseball and football camps could be organized by the school in cooperation with a new town parks and recreation department. The project could help spur more after-school events.
And third, it could boost the economy.
Competition track events bring multiple schools to town, Richard said, and soccer is growing in popularity nationwide. The heightened sports presence would generate revenues.
“Dolores is a beautiful town, and the idea is to do a little more at (Joe Rowell) park to attract visitors and revenue for local businesses,” she said. “It would be cool to drive into town and see a bunch of activities going on in the park, like a football game under the lights.”
Richard also touted the community health benefits of the project. Besides the opportunity for more youth sports, it also would give the at-large community access to sports fields and a modern running track.
“The walking and running track would be open to the community and would give our seniors a safe place to walk,” she said.
Besides youth programs, the field could also be available for community events, adult football and soccer games, and the disc sport, goaltimate.
But without community support and collaboration between the town and school district, the vision is lost, Richard said.
She said the school board hopes to work the new sports complex into its overall campus strategic plan by this fall, and will include it in future budgeting if the town gives its preliminary support.
If there is “unity” on the overall vision, Richard suggested a committee be formed between the two boards with a project manager to begin the process.
She assured school district financial support in the project on construction costs, management and maintenance.
“If you go ahead with it, we look forward to partnering with the town,” she said, “and I promise a big effort on the finances.”
The board agreed to discuss the matter at the next workshop on Monday at 6:30 p.m.