CHARLESTOWN — The City of Charlestown has initiated plans for a more than 120 acre multi-sports complex, a move that's expected to make it a regional draw for youth and league sports.

At a special community meeting Thursday, city leaders announced plans for the City of Charlestown Family Sports Park Master Plan, a project designed by architecture firm Luckett and Farley for $36,000, and expected to be completed in phases over the next five to six years.

AMENITIES

When finished, the park will feature a 90,000 square foot indoor facility, which will include a hard and turf surface for things such as indoor soccer, a training facility, food area and conference space.

Outdoors, there will be two artificial turf fields for soccer and baseball, five 300-foot baseball fields, six 250-foot baseball fields, one miracle field, five soccer fields for children under 13 and over, 10 soccer fields for under 10 and 11, 20 soccer fields for under 8 and three sand volleyball courts.

Close to the fields will be five playgrounds, so parents can keep an eye on younger children while watching the older kids' action at the fields. There will also be a 6- to 7-acre lake for swimming, fishing and kayaking, a quarter-mile and one-mile walking or bike loop and 800 parking spaces. The park will be bordered mostly by the Charlestown State Park, and retain within its boundaries a tree cover to complement it, designers said.

"It's not your ordinary park we're trying to present here," Matt Gullo, with Luckett and Farley, said. "It's something better."

Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall said the next step will likely be the city beginning site work at the property, while starting talks to form public-private partnerships for land development. There is not at this time an estimated project cost for the finished park.

LOCAL BENEFITS FROM REGIONAL DRAW

Paul Wheatley, economic development adviser for the City of Charlestown, said the park will go hand in hand with River Ridge Commerce Center — to date the industrial area has developed more than 13 million square feet of used space and created more than 10,000 jobs. This, and the draw of the new park, he said, will be "mission critical for having a community that's ready to grow."

Jim Epperson, director for the Clark-Floyd Counties Convention & Tourism Bureau, said the park will likely make a big impact on the area — bringing with it the prospect of more restaurants and hotels for traveling teams. The next closest similar sports complexes are roughly two hours away, in Elizabethown, Ky., and near Indianapolis.

"It gets us in the youth sports market as a destination, which is something that we struggled with," Epperson said. "We have a lot of fields but we don't have enough fields that we can cobble together at one time to go out and do bids on tournaments. So this helps the groundwork at an anchor facility."

Hall said he hopes the the park will also instill an even greater sense of athletic pride in children in the community — one that will bring the kids back as adults to raise their own children there.

"I believe that everything we do is about family," Hall said. He added that while Charlestown may have been a "diamond in the rough, it's becoming a crown jewel," he said.

As the presentation ended, community members gathered around the renderings of the park, getting a closer feel for what city leaders and project planners see as its vision.

"I love it," Charlestown resident and father Andre Heal said. "Instead of driving my son to play soccer ... almost to Jeffersonville, this brings it close to home. We can stay here, revenue is generated back into the city, it is just an awesome site and I hope that it is everything presented tonight."

The bulk of space for the project comes in the form of a roughly $8 million land gift from the River Ridge Development Authority — 107 acres at roughly $80,000 per acre. The River Ridge Development Authority has in recent years also donated 100 acres to Utica and 102 to Jeffersonville.

Pat Glotzbach, the city's representative on the River Ridge board, read words from executive director Jerry Acy, who wasn't able to attend.

"We are happy to finally make this gift of land to the City of Charlestown official," Acy said in the news release. "We know this will be a benefit for years to come."

The board is expected to finalize the transfer at a meeting Monday.

Aprile Rickert is the crime and courts reporter at the News and Tribune. Contact her via email at aprile.rickert@newsandtribune.com or by phone at 812-206-2115. Follow her on Twitter: @Aperoll27.

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