After years of planning and designing, the City of Fort Payne broke ground at the site of the new sports complex last Friday.

The complex is to be located off Martin Avenue, a little more than a mile north of the current complex located across from Heil Environmental. The park will extend up to the brow of Lookout Mountain.

“I have dreamed of improving our recreation facilities for several years,” said Councilman Wade Hill. “We now have that capability with the purchase of nearly 300 acres of some of the most beautiful land in Alabama.”

The 296-acre complex will have more than just sports fields, and will encompass:

• six regulation soccer fields

• one multipurpose field

• five softball fields for men and women

• four baseball fields

• one “Miracle field” that will provide opportunities for people of all abilities to play baseball

• an amphitheater

• a true 3.2 mile/5K walking/running trail

• mountain bike trails

• multiple park type settings

• disc golf area

• dog park

“New fields for all major sports are in the plans for this property, as well as other things to bring more family activity to the site,” Hill said. “A 5K walking/running path, an amphitheater for outdoor events, beach volleyball, disc golf, mountain biking, a Miracle field and a future RV site with campgrounds is also possible. This development will be tremendous for our area in terms of tourism and sports tourism specifically. I am glad to be a part of this much needed project and look forward to its completion.”

Hill said there will be some playground equipment throughout the park, picnic tables and benches scattered along the walking trail.

“We want it to be a park with sports fields in it, instead of just a sports complex,” he said.

The plans are also set to incorporate as many of the existing trees for shade to utilize the park’s natural assets.

The development of the new complex was a goal set by the most recent council, along with the new intermediate school and a handful of other major projects, and they are happy to see it coming to fruition.

“I think this new complex site will be an asset to many generations to come,” Mayor-elect Brian Baine said.

“We felt the biggest need at our current complex was soccer fields so we wanted to get the soccer fields built first and then phase in the rest of the complex. I believe this will allow us to definitely expand our recreation department and be able to give citizens things such as biking and hiking trails and hopefully other sports such as disc golf.”

Council member Lynn Brewer noted the impact the complex will have on local tourism with its many facilities.

“I’m excited for our city to have the land and vision to make an area like no other,” Brewer said. “You can visit it and see. This won’t only be an addition to our sports programs, parks and recreation but an outdoor paradise for anyone that enjoys the outdoors. It will promote both community and family while driving ecotourism.”

Council member Johnny Eberhart said this addition will greatly benefit the local soccer teams that have large turnouts in recent years.

“This is a beautiful setting for our new soccer fields,” he said. “With all the kids we normally have in the program, this is a wonderful investment in our children. This is a project that we will continue to work on with other sports fields to follow in the future.”

Crews have recently begun building roadways and opening areas at the site, and the walking trail is expected to be started next week.

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