Sherman is hoping to include around $2.5 million in funding in the 2019-2020 budget for continued work on the Pecan Grove Athletic Complex after being turned down for a grant from the Texoma Health Foundation.

Work is currently underway on the nearly $3.94 million of construction planned for the athletic complex, which will include four baseball and softball fields, as well as a large soccer area that could incorporate multiple fields at once. The complex is being built near the existing Pecan Grove West Park, on the southwest corner of the intersection of Canyon Creek Drive and Shady Oaks Lane.

City officials reached out last year to the Texoma Health Foundation, which partnered with the developers of Gateway Village in Denison for the Texoma Health Foundation Park, to inquire about the organization’s interest in participating in Sherman’s park expansion, but ultimately did not receive any grant money.

“We found out in visiting more with their board, that they tend to give it (annual grant money) more to some of the nonprofit organizations,” Assistant City Manager Steve Ayers said. “They kind of talked to us about what we could do to apply in the future for some of their one-time grants, like they did for the park in Denison that they just built. They said they do that about once every 10 years and for the kind of project that we’re requesting money for, that would be more appropriate.”

When the athletic complex was first discussed as part of the 2017-2018 budget process, city officials said the complex could also include some neighborhood park features such as a splash pad, playground, walking trail and pavilion. During a council meeting in December, Ayers said the THF grant funds could be used for the second phase of the project, which would add those amenities.

“We’ll just continue to move forward,” Ayers said during a recent phone interview. “We’ll look for other grant opportunities, but we’ll also look at doing what we need to do to finish the park through our normal budget.”

He said the second phase of the project — which would also include lighting for the ballfields — would likely cost around $2.5 million.

“Since that didn’t work out where they (THF) were able to award us that grant money, our goal now would be — in our upcoming budget process, which is about to start with the council — the city will be requesting for a phase two to be budgeted in our regular budget,” Ayers said. “We’ll see where it lands as far as priorities, but I believe that is a priority that we would like to get funded. That’s why we anticipate that second phase finishing out a lot of things we’d like to see finished out.”

City staff said the athletic complex is expected to be completed this fall. Parks & Recreation Manager Theresa Hutchinson said last year the addition of the new soccer field at Pecan Grove would allow the ones currently at Fairview Park to become practice space.

“In that space, there’s enough area to handle all of the fields that we currently have at Fairview (Park) plus five or six smaller fields in addition,” Hutchinson said.

The baseball and softball fields will be on one side of the complex with each field’s outfields pointing in a different direction. Two of the fields will be 200 feet to the outfield fence and the other two will be 225 feet. Hutchinson previously said the second phase of construction is expected to include further park amenities to the east of the fields. Ayers said the planned splash pad and playground will likely be close to each other once built.

The Sherman City Council approved a contract late last year with Dean Construction to serve as construction manager-at-risk for the athletic complex project. Dean Construction is taking on the risk for the work for a guaranteed maximum price of $3,938,495.48.

The Pecan Grove Athletic Complex is part of $5.125 million Sherman earmarked for city parks as part of the fiscal year 2017-2018 Capital Improvement Program. Dean Construction’s fee for its services will be $106,000, which is 3 percent of the construction phase’s estimated cost and included in the guaranteed maximum price.

In August, Sherman issued $19.5 million in certificates of obligation at an interest rate that is expected to save the city $1.57 million over the rate used for budgeting. City staff said the funds generated from the sale of the bonds will go toward the Pecan Grove West Athletic Complex, as well as infrastructure in the city’s Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone No. 7 on the southeast corner of the intersection of U.S. Highway 75 and FM 1417, participation in work begin done by the Texas Department of Transportation and street projects such as the West Travis Street development.

Despite getting turned down for a grant this time, Ayers didn’t rule out the possibility the city could still partner with THF on something in the future.

“We did agree to talk to each other as we move closer to the time that they would look for giving out that one-time grant again,” Ayers said. “We would definitely be interested because that would be a big project. We kind of talked about the process of the things we’d want to submit and how you want to gear it so it’s a benefit for the broad community. On the short term, we’ll be moving ahead with the (athletic complex) project because we already budgeted for that project’s phase one, which is about in the $4 million range.”