Public hearing held for Atkins Baseball Complex construction

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Parks and Recreation held a public forum to gather input from residents regarding the Atkins Baseball Complex improvements Thursday night.

The complex currently includes three ballfields and a concession stand, and is cooperatively owned by Columbia and Boone County.

The main improvements to the the complex will include the addition of two new ballfields, new batting cages, additional parking and new walkways. Everyone at the public hearing was supportive of the project.

Executive Director of BC Baseball Stephen Reller expressed excitement for what the improvements will bring to baseball in Columbia.

"It's been a ten year evolution getting it all done, and we've been there since day one playing games on it with our league and our tournaments," Reller said. "And to watch it get to the point where it can be completed as one of the premier competitive complexes in the whole state, it's kind of neat to get to where we can see the end in sight."

Reller also noted there was a specific feature of the new fields he particularly liked.

"The continuation of grass infields is something that at the youth level is not something you find every day," Reller said. "It really helps from a weather standpoint. Teams know they can come to town and play. Weather's not going to knock us out unless it's just a monsoon."

Senior Park Planner Toney Lowery was also excited the improvements were about to become a reality.

"This was always planned to be a five field complex, and it's nice to see it come full circle and wrapping this piece of it up," Lowery said.

Lowery said he hoped to start construction sometime in March, if not earlier, and for the new complex to be fully functional by the time fall baseball season arrives.

Funding for the improvements will come from the 2015 park sales tax funds.