Public Gets Peek At Proposed Hammond Sports Complex

14 October 2016

Tennis courts, a swimming pool and laser tag were a few of the suggestions for what might be contained within a proposed sports and community center in the Woodmar Mall area during a public meeting on the center Thursday.

There were also questions raised about the ongoing financing of the center, local hiring and how the increased traffic such a facility would create would be handled.

The Hammond Redevelopment Commission last year hired Johnson Consulting, of Chicago, to conduct a study for a state-of-the-art center. The consulting group completed a needs assessment for the center earlier this year and is now working on a financial feasibility study. Another public meeting will take place at 5 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Edison Elementary School Cafeteria, 7025 Madison Ave.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development earlier announced it had approved a loan guarantee of nearly $8.7 million for what is estimated to be a $12 million to $15 million facility.

The consultants presented an outline of what the complex might look like at Thursday's meeting at Hammond High School, although Christopher Budd, project analyst with Johnson Consulting,  said "nothing has been determined as of yet. We really want to stress that."

The concept presented by the consultants referenced an 85,000-square-foot facility, with 60,000 square feet for sports activities. Those activities could include multiple basketball/volleyball courts. There also could be one to two indoor turf fields that could be used for soccer and other sports. Pitching tunnels, batting cages, locker rooms and an indoor walking track are other ideas.

Another 20,000 square feet could be used for family entertainment space and 5,000 square feet for a senior/youth room. Retail, restaurants and a local medical facility could be potential uses for outer parcels.

Hammond resident Kathryn Knapp indicated there was a lack of indoor tennis courts locally and suggested they should be considered for the center, while fellow resident Alvin Cheeks raised the possibility of areas for golf and racquetball. Hammond Academy for Science and Technology sophomore Kyle Mason brought up the idea of laser tag and an obstacle course.

Councilman Anthony Higgs, D-3rd, read a long list of questions he had earlier submitted about the proposed facility for which he expressed support. The questions included its potential impact on the existing Hammond Civic Center, the proposed facility's cost to residents, the cost to use the facility and how many local residents would be employed. Johnson Consulting Project Manager Brandon M. Dowling said he saw the new facility as being supplemental to the civic center. Some of the questions about funding would be addressed in the cost/benefit analysis being conducted, he said.

Hammond resident Amy Dancisak, who lives near the proposed facility, was concerned how traffic drawn to the facility would be handled. She also wanted streets and other infrastructure in the area to be properly taken care of by the city.


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