Spring is less than six weeks away and Lincoln Trail College is moving ahead with improvements to Statesmen Park.
Last February, the LTC Foundation board voted vote to deed 10 acres west of the baseball diamond to the college, increasing the size of the campus by 12 percent. Ground was broken on the outdoor sports complex in May, but much of the planned work was delayed by last year's wet weather.
LTC President Ryan Gower said construction of baseball locker rooms is scheduled to begin this spring and should be completed sometime during the summer. A press box at Parker Field will be under construction this spring.
The locker rooms will be built in an existing pole barn south the field. It will provide players with a place to change and to store clothing and equipment. Electrical service to the structure is to be installed this week.
Gower said the project is being paid for with the proceeds from a recent fund-raising effort. Several past Statesmen baseball players have contributed.
Improvements to the bullpen are nearly complete and a 12-foot-high fence was recently installed to provide a safer environment for spectators and pedestrians.
A new water main to run field irrigation will be run to the soccer/softball field this spring.
Final grading and seeding of the new soccer fields will take place as soon as the weather is warm enough to allow the seed to grow, Gower explained.
"We anticipate playing on the soccer fields in September," he said.
Long-term plans include the addition of a softball field and an indoor practice/conditioning facility. Gower expects these will occur in three to five years.
Gower explained the indoor practice facility will provide baseball and softball players will a dedicated training facility on campus. This will be especially valuable when the planned Crawford County Recreation Center is built onto the existing natatorium and gymnasium. It will allow players to train without interrupting the workouts of community residents.
Gower also said fundraising for the rec center is ongoing.
The rec center isn't actually an LTC project, but it is to be constructed on college property and will connect to the west side of the LTC pool.
Plans call for an approximate 33,000-square-foot building featuring multi-purpose activity rooms, treadmills and cardio equipment, free weights, an indoor track, locker rooms and more. The facility will be available 24 hours a day.
The existing pool, which is scheduled for extensive renovation (see separate story), is a major reason for placing the center on campus. The anticipated cost is $5.5 million. Construction of a pool would add $1.5 to $2 million to the price.
Three million dollars have been raised or pledged toward the project and Gower said a dedicated fund-raising effort is planned. James "Bumper" Hostetler, formerly executive director of the Vincennes University Foundation, has been brought in to "put together a road map" for the project because of his expertise in raising money.
Meanwhile, another major project on campus is is in the final planning stages.
LTC representatives are working with Sandra Walk of Walk Architecture to finalize construction documents for the Theater Renaissance Project.
"This project is going to create a new choral room, new spaces for individual music or instrument lessons for our community members and will solve many of our storage problems in the theater," Gower said.
They hope to have the project out to bid shortly, he added.
Depending on the bids and the availability of contractors, the goal is to break ground in May or June and finish the project in early 2021.