By MATT BLOIS
Brentwood’s government has started some preliminary conversations with Williamson County about making improvements to the indoor sports complex near Tower Park.
The county has already approved $1.8 million to improve the complex and asked Brentwood officials to chip in for additional improvements.
At an informational meeting with the City Commission on Thursday, City Manager Kirk Bednar asked whether it would be worth spending time to investigate the proposal. Several commissioners expressed interest in at least examining the costs and benefits.
“Even if we just investigate it and decide not to pursue it, we will learn things from it,” City Commissioner Rhea Little said. “Our parks will learn things.”
In an email, Bednar emphasized that the city has only had very preliminary discussions with the county about this project.
“There are still a lot of details to be discussed before either government could consider voting on whether to partner on improvements at the county sports center. It is simply a discussion we are having at this time, and it may or may not ever come to fruition,” he wrote.
The possible improvements include outdoor pickleball courts, an indoor basketball court, a fitness center and a splash pad with several water slides.
Pickleball is like tennis, but played with a different type of ball on a smaller court, and is among the fastest-growing sports in the nation.
At the meeting Bednar presented an image of what the splash pad might look like. The image included several water slides, an area where kids could climb and a bucket suspended above the structure that could dump water on kids.
The total cost of all of those improvements would be more than $5 million, but the city and county could exclude some projects to lower the total cost.
Based on those rough numbers, Bednar suggested contributing $1.5 million to the project to cover the cost of the splash pad and water slides.
Commissioner Anne Dunn said her young grandsons would probably love the splash pad, but she had some questions about the project. For $1.5 million, she said she would rather see a type of activity available year round.
She pointed out that the city is considering a new headquarters for the police department and a new station for the fire department, and wanted to know exactly how much those projects would cost before moving forward.
“I don’t mind spending money when I have that comfort level,” she said. “I just need a lot more answers.”
Commissioner Ken Travis said the improvements sounded like something worth investigating, but said $1.5 million should be an absolute cap.
Based on the input from the commissioners, the city will look into the proposal to determine how much it would cost and what the city would get for that money. That process will likely take months, and neither governing body is likely to make a decision until much later this year.
Bednar did throw out one cheaper alternative at the end of the meeting: he joked that the Parks Department could just turn on the sprinklers every day at a certain time.