In 2015, the City of Murray started the planning of a large project for our community: the Murray Recreation Complex. This new facility was a leap of faith for our small town, because of its size and the lack of immediate resources to make it happen. However, since that time, we have developed a plan with the help of our park board, interested community members, and a design engineer.
The total project will cost over $2.5 million by the time it is completed in a few years. Key elements include three ballfields with mini soccer fields within them, a concession building, sidewalks and trails, a half basketball court, playgrounds, and parking. The ballfields will be lit and will have an electronic scoreboard and irrigation system. The project creates green space along a swale, which will help reduce erosion on the site.
Phase 1 is complete and involved the following elements:
Most of the initial earthwork, including leveling land for the fields and entrance road and the excavation for electrical and water.
Surfacing, fencing, dugouts, storm water conveyance, and scoreboards for the three fields.
Gravel entrance road.
Running of water and electrical lines.
The total cost of Phase 1 was $758,000.
Phase 2 has begun and we have already been awarded $145,000 in grants towards the completion. It includes:
Construction of the 10’ wide asphalt trail around the fields.
Sidewalk and bridge extension to the Lion’s Shelter.
Trail extension to First Street.
Ballfield irrigation system.
The engineer’s estimate for Phase 2 is $358,462.00.
Phase 3 will consist of a concession stand and restrooms. We are in the process of determining if it is feasible to develop this facility into a storm shelter. If we feel this is a feasible opportunity a grant application will be submitted to FEMA that has the potential to pay for 85% of the storm shelter. Costs for Phase 3 will develop as we determine the best option to move forward.
Phase 4 will consist of field lighting, small playground(s) and a basketball court with an estimated cost of $430,000.
The origination of this project goes back to 2013, when the Murray Development Corporation acquired some land on the south side of Murray. The initial reason for this land purchase was to help locate a Casey’s General Store in Murray, which was successful. Later in 2013, the development group sold a portion of the land they acquired to Casey’s and a store is now in the city. The development group had retained about 12 acres.
In 2015, a group of community members embarked on a bold plan to improve the recreational offerings in Murray. The groups that came together included the City of Murray, Murray Parks and Recreation, Murray Schools, Murray Little League, and the Murray Development Corporation. While Murray had and still has a city park with two ball fields, the current facilities are wholly unsuitable for the needs of the community. The City of Murray has increased its investment in its park programming and the Park and Recreation Board added more community recreational programs, such as football and soccer. These new sports have been popular from the start. While the number of participants has grown, the places to play these sports are inadequate.
That year, the Murray Development Corporation made those 12 acres available for the new recreational complex that would support softball, baseball, soccer, and football year round. The new complex would be larger than the existing ball fields at Mallory Park and would enable the redevelopment of that site, or a portion of it, into affordable housing. Therefore, the plan called for an eventual land swap between the City of Murray and the Development Corporation.
Early in the planning process, the Development engaged Murray native Josh Shields of Bolton & Menk, Inc., a consulting engineering and surveying company. Mr. Shields prepared a draft design concept and cost estimates for all phases of the project. Through these designs, the City had applied for grants and raised funds to finish Phase 1.
The vision called for a full recreational complex that will allow the Murray School to use it for school sports and practices, for the Park Board to use it for community sports, and for the general public to use it for pickup games and fundraiser tournaments. Sports and activities impacted include baseball, softball, basketball, football, soccer, playground games, cross-country, track, exercise trail walking, bicycling, and more. These activities promote health and wellness for Murray’s youth and adults by making active outdoor recreation feasible close to home and school.
All of Murray, population 756, will be served but the main beneficiaries are youth and families. Likely 300 local residents will participate in recreational programs annually. At least twice this many will use it at other times, including spectators and visiting teams from southern Iowa. Most of these will use the trail. Nearly 67% of Murray’s residents are low- and moderate-income individuals.
Murray has accomplished many things in the past seven years to get the town ready for new development. Some of the key items include:
Upgrading the drinking water distribution systems.
Completing a phase of storm water infrastructure and green drainage improvements.
Phase 1 of the recreation complex.
Reconstruction and resurfacing of 8 streets
Continued updates to the school infrastructure.
Over $4.8 million in funds have been invested in these efforts to date.
Our goals are to become a recreational destination for all ages and skill levels, to make Murray a fun place to live and play, and to improve the sense of wellness and community within Murray.
The City of Murray will maintain the facility through annual budgeting funded from local taxpayers. Funding will pay for staff to mow the site, clear snow, repair damaged property, and maintain landscaping. Appropriate signage and insurance will be provided and maintained. Likely the facility will survive 50 years in the planned use without major renovations. By then, because the facility is so popular, it will likely be expanded to support more recreational options than already planned.
Murray Recreation Board members and other community volunteers will program educational and programmatic elements to ensure that new users are attracted and these users learn how to safely use the facilities and participate in the sports offered. Recreation Board members have had numerous recent successful programs involving extensive parental and community support.
The community and surrounding businesses have supported many recreational projects over the years and your support of this project will, combined with other grants and local fundraising, help us reach our goal of a full recreation complex within three years. At that time, we look forward to celebrating our completed project with you.
Denise Arnold, the City Administrator in Murray, is the lead project contact. She can be contacted at 641-447-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our City Hall address is 420 Maple Street, PO Box 186, Murray, Iowa 50174.
We still need to raise $700,000 to complete the project. We are thankful for the generous support for this project and we hope to receive a positive response regarding our fundraising request as it is solely funded by grants and donations.
We are excited to announce that we have received a $3900 grant from our local SCICF that will go towards upgrades to the Veteran's Memorial Park located on Maple Street. We will be pouring a concrete slab that will have a new gazebo installed on it and replacing the broken lamp post that was donated in memory of Merritt Shaw.