Amherst is going to do a study to look at the future for the Robb Centennial Complex.
AMHERST – A quarter century after it was built, Amherst is going to take a look at the future of the Robb Centennial Complex.
The town is budgeting up to $25,000 for the development of architectural redesign plan for the softball-baseball complex on LaPlanche Street.
“We know the facility was designed and built a couple of decades ago and served its purpose well then. We want to have a look to make sure we’re making the best use of our resources now given the demographic and people’s interests have changed,” town CAO Greg Herrett said Thursday. “We just want to make sure we’re making the investment in the right infrastructure.”
The town will consider its 2014-15 capital budget at its Monday council session.
The budget includes $3 million for construction of a new police facility, $200,000 for demolition of the existing West Highlands Elementary and $181,836 for the enhancement to the West Highlands gymnasium.
Amherst has $200,000 set aside in its 2015-16 capital budget to reconstruct the complex, but Herrett said that will depend on what the study suggests.
The complex was built on the former Robb Engineering industrial site in the late 1980s as a town centennial project, opening in 1989. Since then, the complex has hosted numerous provincial and regional slo-pitch and baseball championships as well as a series of Canadian slo-pitch championships in the mid and late 1990s.
While there were more than 30 slo-pitch teams in several tiers at one time, the Amherst Men’s Slo-Pitch League saw fewer than 10 last season, while the baseball diamond was used by the bantam and midget programs after the Lion Cecil Small field on Cornwall Avenue was closed to make way for the new West Highlands Elementary.
One option for the complex could be as a new home for the Cumberland Wolfpack Football Association. Travise Dow spoke to members of town council at its January committee of the whole meeting about the program’s need for a larger facility than the Winston Street Field.
Dow said the minor football program is continuing to grow to the point it has pretty much outgrown its present location. He suggests Dickey Park or the Robb Complex as potential locations.
The Wolfpack have used the complex in the fall, utilizing its lights, but he said the existing configuration would not work for the older players.
He said the Wolfpack is adding a varsity program this year that will see children playing minor football up to age 18.
“The fact is our field needs attention,” Dow told council. “At Winston Street, the field was constructed for soccer and a football field is 50 yards longer. We’ve run into some issues, especially with the north end zone.”
Dow said the town has been very co-operative with fixing what’s a wet, marshy area, but he said the association received a lot more complaints last year about that area of the field.
He said Dickey Park would be a good option because of the walking track around the complex and the washroom facilities. He said the Robb Complex would also be a good option
Another option is the high school. Dow said the association tried to work with ARHS to move its program there on one of the fields, but did not get a response. ARHS, however, is a public-private partnership and is owned by Ashford Investments.
There was a 70-page feasibility study done several years ago in support of an all-weather turf facility, but it needs extensive funding from all three levels to be completed.