Communication Builds Our Community

City Approves Consulting Contract to Study Possible Recreation Complex

Lake Wales City Commissioners at their May 19 meeting approved hiring a Clearwater consultant to determine the feasibility of building a sports and recreation complex that might attract tournaments and other special events.

The city will pay Sports Facilities Advisory (SFA) $42,500 plus travel expenses for the study, which would be one element of an overall recreation master plan funded by recreation impact fees. Rather than do its own request for proposals the City "piggybacked" on a Pinellas County contract for a similar study by SFA, which says it has conducted 2,000 similar engagements producing about $10 billion of dollars in developments.

"The approach outlined is unique to our conversation, your needs, responsive to your vision, and right-sized to your market," Eric Sullivan, an SFA partner, wrote to city Recreation Coordinator Stephanie Edwards.

The proposed scope of work for Lake Wales includes: a Step 1 kick off call to cover introductions, project history, existing data, potential partners and stakeholders, key dates and other questions and answers; Step 2 existing data review and preliminary market research to encompass demographics, sports participation in the region and an analysis of existing service providers - the competition; Step 3 business development planning session with market/site tour to meet key stakeholders and being a "deep-dive" planning and strategy session; Step 4 detailed financial forecast with 5-year cash flow and 20-year financial outlook along with insight into the financial potential of the project including projections related to construction and start-up costs, revenues and expenses by product/program, net income facility utilization and more; Step 5 economic impact analysis based upon projected events, tournaments, teams, spectators, out-of-town visitors, length of stay and daily rates and expenditures; and Step 6 executive summary and recommendations.

Deputy City Manager James Slaton told commissioners the more than one-half million in impact fees are earmarked and can only be spent for recreation, including planning, studies and construction. He said the recreation plans will be coordinated to include potential design elements produced for downtown redevelopment plans. The city has contracted with Chastain Skillman and SM&E to engineer and produce design concepts for downtown that eventually will be unveiled at workshops to get public input.

Slaton said there has been much discussion about the need for a new gymnasium, that might attract tournaments. The consultants will help determine what is "right-sized for our community and do a market and business analysis," Slaton said. Having a plan would put the city in a better position to request tourist development and sports marketing dollars from the county, he said.

Deputy Mayor Robin Gibson said Legion Field is overused and the city needs a larger, community football stadium - possibly developed in partnership with Lake Wales High School and Warner and Webber universities.

Commissioner Curtis Gibson said he'd been asked many questions about the consulting contract but he decided using impact fees it made sense to move forward to determine facility needs and potential partnerships or other funding sources.


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