A file photo of Craner Field in Preston. It is on a 5.6 acre fenced grassy field with two ball diamonds with backstops, lights, bleachers, restrooms and a good-sized parking lot.
PRESTON – Preston City is putting the wheels in motion to build a community recreation center on Craner Field. The city has contacted a Pocatello architect to give them preliminary estimate costs and design options.
The city purchased the ball park from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the summer of 2020.
“We met with Ted Booth, an architect, and he came and did an onsite inspection of Craner Field,” Preston City Mayor Dan Keller said. “We already have the utilities and infrastructure in place and now what we need is drawings of what we can build for $2 to $3 million.”
Booth is well known in the Pocatello area. He designed the Pocatello rec center and the school gym for the high school in Salmon. His firm has built government, private and commercial buildings throughout Southeast Idaho. He is going to give the city an estimated cost to build the recreation center.
“We will not tax the public for the building,” the mayor said. “We will have user fees for people who want to use the gym, however.”
The city has moved some money around for getting started on the building. The go ahead for the city rec center depends on what Booth tells them it will cost.
“We have set aside over a million dollars to get started on the rec center,” he said. “We think that will be a good down payment.”
Keller is trying to negotiate with steel and cement contractors in the area with hopes they will help the city build their gym. But until they get estimates from the architect, the city will not pursue the building of the facility.
“The decisions will be made to go forward after we see Booth’s cost estimates. We are talking to steel and concrete firms now,” Keller said. “I plan on engaging other public entities to see if we can get monetary participation from them.”
The mayor said, conservatively, 15 percent of the activity in Cache County’s rec centers come from out of town communities.
“I’ve been driving my kids and now my grandkids to Smithfield and Logan to play basketball for years,” Keller said. “The primary driver for the rec center is there are a number of residents, including me, that drive to the Logan and Smithfield rec centers to play ball.”
The facility is not going to have a swimming pool or weight training equipment. It will primarily be used for basketball, volleyball or pickleball. The mayor said it is important to him and the council that the community center does not compete with existing private businesses.
“We would like to keep people home and not spend their money going to Logan for something they could have right here,” he said. “I wanted public input and had some criticism in a city council meeting and that is to be expected.”
In other Preston City business, Franklin County wants permission to use the city chambers for a court room for two years while the courthouse is being remodeled.
“I don’t think we have a problem with that,” Keller said. “We have always had a good relationship with the county.”
He said they didn’t act on it in the last city council meeting because it wasn’t an action item on their agenda, but they plan action on it in the next city council meeting.
“The county is asking to use the council chamber two day a week during the day,” he said. “It would be from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. We have a nice facility and it is secure. They are welcome to use it.”
Also, in the most recent city council meeting Chris Larsen was sworn in has a new city councilman for his first 4-year term and Todd Thomas was also sworn in for a fourth 4-year term.