Lindsay tries to close $3M gap on ball park improvement plan

Lindsay city council approves fundraising partnership for Olive Bowl/Kaku Park renovations, staff applies for $5 million parks grant

LINDSAY – Renovations at one of Lindsay’s most cherished sports fields have been on the back burner for the better part of a decade. Any hope of improving Olive Bowl/Kaku Park has come down to a major $3 million gap that the city hopes to bridge through new grants and fundraising opportunities.

Last week the Lindsay City Council voted in favor of a fundraising partnership with the Visalia Rawhide. The city plans to sell tickets for the Rawhide’s May 14 game in their Budweiser Redzone. The city will have 100 tickets to sell, hold a pregame interview to talk about the renovation, and has the opportunity to hold the 50/50 raffle during the game. While this is a charming effort to get the community involved to help fix their park, nobody is under the illusion that a night out at the Rawhide will raise $3 million.

“Obviously, we’re not going to close that gap on the project,” city manager Joe Tanner said. “I think it would be a good thing. Having little league involved in the process so they can kind of feel some ownership in the process. I’m planning on buying a bunch of tickets, giving them out to my employees. Worst case, we have a fun day at the ballpark.”

The most the city could get from ticket sales through their agreement with Rawhide would be $2,000.

Tanner said the grant money to renovate the park was “a little light to begin with.” During a presentation last month city staff stated that they have plans to renovate the parking lot, add a concessions storage building, add four and two row bleachers throughout the fields, drought tolerant landscaping, walking trails and stadium lights. Staff added that they plan on renovating a nearby well that was abandoned 20-30 years ago and use it for irrigations.

They also plan to add new trees, drinking fountains, trash receptacles, picnic tables, barbecue grills and an entry monument to be decided on later. The expected cost is $5.3 million, but even that estimate is expected to go up.

Tanner said the grants for the park were applied for in 2019 before “everything hit the fan.” He added that the economic impact of COVID-19 has delayed projects. By the time the city has issued contracts and have them approved the estimated costs of materials had risen.

“It seems like every round that we meet with the engineer and architect, the prices just keep going up and up and up,” Tanner said.

The two major items driving the costs and delaying renovations are stadium lights and concrete. “Those are the two things that are just killing us. So we’ve scaled the projects way back,” Tanner said.

The city has some time before they need to start construction. In that time they are applying for a $5 million grant to close the gap on Olive Bowl/Kaku Park, and then take a look at Harvard Park. Tanner said Harvard park is different because it won’t need most of the amenities that Olive Bowl/Kaku Park need which should allow $2 million to go further.

“Granted, it’s not going to be like city park, but it can be like a fully functioning, nice looking park for that amount of money,” Tanner said.

Tanner added that If the city is awarded the $5 million grant they are applying for, and they hope to be awarded in early spring, then the city plans on moving forward as quickly as possible, “before those costs get a chance to increase even more.”

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