Commissioners increase budget for Westmoreland Complex
by Staff Writer
by Brian Carlton
CORNELIUS – It will cost an additional $290,000 to open the Westmoreland Athletic Complex this summer.
Commissioners heard the reasons why and unanimously approved the extra funding during their April 2 meeting.
The athletic complex, located at 8430 Westmoreland Road, is a baseball and softball facility that will include four fields and a picnic shelter. The already completed first phase of the facility includes two baseball fields, a restroom and concession building, playground and parking. The problem with completing Phase II involves requirements from the N.C. Department of Transportation. The department requires a dedicated left turn lane be installed before it will sign off on the project. As gas prices climb, the cost of finishing that portion of the project rises as well.
“As everybody knows, the cost of gasoline has gone up and that’s had an effect on (the) asphalt price index,” Cornelius Parks Arts Recreation and Culture Director Troy Fitzsimmons said. “What that budget amendment covers is pretty much land acquisition and that additional cost associated with the turn lane.”
Another part of the problem, Fitzsimmons said, was that previously, the town didn’t have all the data detailing what land it would need to buy for right of way. It will cost the town $207,075 to buy the land.
“Because Westmoreland Road is so old, they went back 50-plus years and title searched, to look at exactly where the lines were. Now it’s been firmed up,” Fitzsimmons said.
Between the sidewalk and the turn lane, it will cost the town $496,000. As of April 2, only $206,000 remained in the budget. The additional $290,000 will come out of the town’s fund balance.
While construction goes on, Cornelius-Lake Norman athletic leagues use the fields at Cornelius Elementary. The biggest issue with that arrangement has been the lack of field upkeep by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Fitzsimmons said, explaining that league officials went out last week and mowed the grass on their own, because it was getting too high to play in.