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District postpones decision on funds for restrooms at county soccer fields

By Richard Shaw

Generally when a public entity opens a current year’s budget for revisions, they are simple housekeeping items. But during a public hearing Monday when the Carbon County Recreation/Transportation Special Service District board met to rework the 2017 budget, issues arose about expenditures for the new soccer fields being constructed near the Carbon County Fairgrounds.
It ended up with the board postponing funding for buildings at the soccer field until costs and needs for the concession stand, restrooms, pavilion and storage facilities could be more accurately determined. Earlier this year, the County Commission had opened bids for the construction of the buildings and the bids ranged from $240,000 to $400,000.
Some board members and members of the public questioned whether the $200,000 request from the county should be spent in these areas before anyone knows how heavily used the fields will be. The fields are scheduled to open early this summer.

Discussion roundup

“The fairgrounds have really been improved over the years,” said Tom Matthews, former state legislator and Carbon County commissioner. “But I just can’t see spending $240,000 or $250,000 for a concession stand/restroom. Earlier this year I talked with Casey (Hopes, a county commissioner) about that fact that we will be booming with the soccer fields being here. But now we are talking about a smaller restroom, not even as big as one at the motocross track?”
Matthews said he talked with Jesse McCourt of Waste and Water Logistics and also to Wayne Clausing at Sutherlands to look at some portable buildings that could be used to save money. Clausing said he would donate two buildings for concession stands if it was just noted on the structures that Sutherlands donated them. Matthews also said that Angelo Kiahtipes and Mel Coonrod said they would be willing to help out.
“I am not saying never build a concession stand but instead let’s do it in phases,” stated Matthews. “Then in a year we can look back and we may need other things there. Once you build that restroom and it isn’t big enough you will be stuck with porta potties again.”
As originally planned, the building would be 1,100 square feet. There would be three stalls in each of the rest rooms. As the discussion went on it was determined that in some cases there may be a hundred people that needed to be served by the facility while in other cases there might be hundreds

More alternatives

Other alternatives were also discussed. Board Member Mark Morley talked about the high school trailer the school moves around for concessions, and that maybe the county could work with something like that. Discussion then centered on where such a trailer could be located. Hopes, who is the commissioner on the board, said he wondered about the usability of a concession stand in the parking lot. It was also brought up that there is a trailer now used and brought in for softball tournaments at those fields.
Board Member Richard Lee said that possibly concessions could be bid out to a private firm. However, Hopes said that typically concessions profits go toward the league or those holding the tournament.
But the costs for such a facility, adequate or inadequate, was also brought home by Board Member Larry Jensen.
“I just think with the reduction in gas revenues and coal being in the situation it is I am uneasy about spending money for anything at this time,” he said concerning the money that comes into the district from mineral lease revenues. “There’s one thing for sure and it is that those resources will deplete. We have been told not to count on that money forever.”
Board President Pace Hansen said he was concerned in the same way because “we may have a tough deal in meeting the county contract, maybe for this year and years to come.”

Question of image

But the issue still remained as to what to do to keep an image of a good facility so that it will attract people to tournaments from outside the area and also serve those that live here.
“Talking to the softball people, they bring in a lot of good tournaments,” said Matthews. “But that didn’t happen overnight. I think we could really improve on the fields and make it a better place if we wait a year and then go to the CIB and get a grant. Then the county can come back to this board and ask for money. I think that would be a win-win situation for the county and the district. I think the county has a lot on its plate right now, and not having to do this would make it easier to get those soccer fields up and running. The softball field has nine stalls in the women’s restroom and I think there is a sizing issue here for the facility that is planned. If we are going to do this, we should do it right. Things like waiting in line to use restrooms, those are the things people remember about an event or a place.”
Hopes stated the county was already going to the CIB in March and would be taking the money from the board and the $70,000 from the Eccles Grant they received to try and compound that money.

Matthews not alone

But not only Matthews brought objections to the meeting.
“I have been in this sanitary disposal business for some time and I too believe that the way these restrooms are configured, they are not big enough,” said McCourt. “If you are going to have a big tournament out there and you under size these it will turn into a sanitation disaster.”
Hopes replied that on big tournaments, they would be using many fields in town and that porta potties would be needed regardless.

More options

But McCourt said that there are many other options to look at.
“ If you design this with some sewer and water hookups somewhere accessible we can bring in some nice (restroom) trailers like they use at the Manti Pageant,” he said. “We also can provide hand wash stations and concession stands. We are talking here about building restrooms and a concession stand you can’t even cook in that costs more than most people in this county spend on a home and its going to be used less than six months out of the year. For what is being considered in expenditures we could put 10 porta potties out there for every season for 60 years.”
Hopes said the county didn’t plan the concession stand to be able to accommodate cooking because of liability factors involved.
McCourt suggested that maybe five years down the road the county will know the turnout of people for events and then they could build something that is going to work.
Jared Hansen, from Jones and Demille Engineering pointed out that on the other side of the issue maybe the actual use of the field and the facilities should be examined. He said what would be normal use should be considered in the planning. He said it is a balance between having the restrooms the right size for maybe 100 people using three fields and an 18 team tournament that runs around the clock.

Tourney cancelled

Hopes said that the tournament that was to be held on Memorial Day this year has been cancelled until next year because of concerns that the sod, that will be put in place this spring, will not be anchored enough. He said after what he had heard he was agreeable to slow down the process on the construction and look at the situation in a year or a number of years possibly starting with the restroom construction.
“Maybe we need to go back to the drawing board and consider the offers from those in the county that want to help us,” he said.

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