City moves forward on Sportsplex

The New Albany board of aldermen took another step toward beginning its planned expansion of the city’s Sportsplex Wednesday when it hired engineering firm Mendrop-Wages to oversee the project.

With a split decision that was ultimately decided by New Albany Mayor Tim Kent, the board completed nearly two month’s of discussion on which firm should head the park’s expansion on the east side of U.S. Highway 78.

The board had examined four other options besides Mendrop-Wages, including Cook Coggin, ESI of Pontotoc and Precision Engineering and Daniels and Williams, both of Oxford.

Before the vote, the aldermen discussed how each firm would bill the city for its work.

“I talked to all five of them,” said Alderman-at-large Scott Dunnam.  “They all gave the indication that they’d work with us on the fee and most of them agreed that they could work on an hourly rate if we wanted.”

Ward two alderman Johnny Anderson made the point that the city should keep some control over how the chosen firm would go about planning the project.

“We want it to be engineered enough, but not over engineered,” Anderson said.  “I recommend that we meet with them and tell them what we want and tell them not to go over what we approve for them to spend.”

With Ward four alderman Bill Tucker absent, the board took an anonymous vote, with two aldermen voting for Mendrop-Wages and the other two voting for Daniels & Williams.

Kent said that he gave his vote for Mendrop-Wages because of familiarity with the firm.

“I’ve worked with them on Toyota and they’re also working with us on Vuteq,” Kent said.  “They do good work and I think they’d do a great job on this project.”

Preliminary discussion in previous board meetings has included the possibility of constructing five new soccer fields and six new tennis courts, along with an amphitheater and a walking track, in the 40-acre lot across on the oposite side of US Highway 78 from the main Sportsplex facilities.

City officials said that they would meet with Mendrop-Wages soon to begin work on the project.