Republic buys 136-acre property for colossal park

Steve Chapman

The recently purchased Republic park property outlined in blue, which sits a quarter mile east of Amazon. The park will better accommodate the city’s 148 baseball teams and 62 soccer teams.

$3.24 million purchase for future home of sports complexes; all hinges on re-upping taxes
Republic City Council approved a resolution during its Tuesday, Sept. 7 meeting that authorized the purchase of a 136.76- acre tract of land at 6140 W. Farm Road 156, located south of Brookline Cemetery, from the Ruth Sawyer Trust.
The city closed on and took possession of the land on Wednesday, Sept. 8. Under the terms of the resolution, the city will pay a total of $3.24 million for the land; $1.24 million was paid at closing; another $1 million will be paid to the Ruth Sawyer Trust on Dec. 15, 2022, and the remaining $1 million will be paid on Dec. 15, 2023. According to the resolution, the money will be paid out of the city’s Parks and Recreation Fund with assistance from the Capital Improvement Sales Tax Fund, as needed.
Jared Keeling, assistant city administrator/ Parks and Recreation director, said the purchase took the Parks and Recreation Department a big step closer to its goal of improving its athletic programing.
“The Republic Parks and Recreation Department has been actively looking for a large parcel of land to expand and better our athletic programming for quite some time,” he said. “This acquisition of 136.76 acres will provide us the opportunity to better serve our Republic community and the surrounding region for years to come.”
Potential park would be home to several athletic facilities
Keeling said the city hopes to develop the land into a park that will support several athletic events.
“The preliminary plan,” he said, “is to have as many as 8 (to) 12 baseball/softball fields, 12 to16 soccer fields of varying sizes for different age groups (and) several multi-sport fields and all the support facilities, such as restrooms, concession stands, pavilions (and) shade structures, needed to support the various fields upon complete buildout. This is our primary need as of right now.”
While the primary focus of the park’s development is improving the city’s athletic program, Keeling said it will also provide the public with other forms of recreation.
“Multiple uses will be one of the calling cards of the new park,” he said. “Certainly, athletics will be at the forefront with league play, tournaments, and instruction. However, we are looking to add a three-and-a-half-mile pedestrian trail, playgrounds, green space, pavilions (and more) for general park use.”
Park’s development hinges on future sales tax renewal
The development of the land depends on being able to secure the funding. For that, Keeling said, the city is pinning its hopes that voters will next spring renew sales taxes dedicated to the city’s parks.
“Development of the land … is dependent upon the successful renewals of our parks sales taxes in April 2022,” he said. “If the taxes should successfully renew in April of 2022, we do believe we could perhaps get started on some early development of the parcel in late fall of 2022.”
Keeling added that if everything moves forward as planned, at least part of the park could be open to the public as early as the spring of 2023.
Surveys show great deal of public support for project
The $3.24 million the city is using to pay for the land, as well as the cost of the development of the park is a massive investment, but Keeling said feedback the city has received from its residents over the years indicate a great deal of public support for the project.
“Multiple citizen input opportunities over the last three years have resulted in the athletic complex consistently scoring high amongst the projects our citizens would like to see completed,” he said. “This includes input gathered from the update to the Parks & Recreation Master Plan and the last two citizen surveys conducted in 2018 and 2021.”
Park could work in conjunction with Springfield facility
Interestingly enough, Springfield is building a similar park about three miles east of the site where the new park will be located. However, Keeling said, the two facilities can easily co-exist and might actually be able to work together to host major
“The Springfield facility is going to be a great addition to our region, but our facility is, for the most part, going to target a different audience (and) market with different components,” he said. “We actually believe some joint efforts on larger tournaments might be possible for youth soccer.”
Keeling said the city is looking forward to developing the new park, and believes it will serve the public well into the future.
“The city of Republic is tremendously excited about the potential of this property and the positive impact it will have on our Republic community for generations to come,” he said.


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