BOWIE – A new indoor court facility could cost the City of Bowie more than $5 million, city officials told the Bowie City Council during its Oct. 7 meeting.
The 12,000 square foot facility, which would be located on Route 197 near the Bowie Golf Club, could cost between $5 million and $5.5 million, said Sally Hein, the city’s community services director.
“We do believe that is a good number. If anything, we would come in below that number,” Hein said, adding that the estimate considers escalating costs and the project’s undetermined timeline, which she said could be two to three years from now.
The proposed facility would be in addition to the city’s Municipal Gymnasium on Northview Drive. The proposed project would be about half the size, Hein said.
The facility could be configured to one high school basketball court, two middle school basketball courts, two volleyball courts, eight pickleball courts or serve as a multi-use facility, according to a conceptual plan shared during the meeting.
According to the project’s estimated timeline, the design phase would begin next October, with bidding and contracting starting in March 2022 and construction slated for July 2022 and lasting for about a year.
Because the city already owns the property, it could help speed up the timeline of the project, Hein said.
The proposed location could serve several purposes, she added. The smaller facility size is more fiscally responsible and minimizes staffing costs. The 7.5-acre site would allow for expansion, if needed, and would help bring more recreation to another part of the city, she said.
Councilmember Michael Esteve said that this “sufficiently small project” could be paid for with the city’s reserve funds, rather than have the city incur debt to finance the costs.
However, City Manager Alfred Lott said he would not recommend using those funds for this project as he anticipates a need for the city to tap into those funds to pay for operating expenses next year and the year after.
Lott said the city should take advantage of its AAA bond rating and borrow money to finance the cost of the project.
“We should take advantage of the fact that that exists and that it would be low rates,” Lott said.
Councilmember Dufour Woolfley expressed concern about the proposed site’s location and asked city staff if they could further research where the majority of the current facility’s users are coming from.
“I’m not sure that that part of the city is where we have the greatest need,” Woolfley said.
Mayor Pro Tem Henri Gardner said he likes the proposed located on Route 197.
“I do want to see a little bit more activity on and around the golf course to utilize it as much as possible,” Gardner said.
With six council seats up for grabs in next month’s election, Esteve pointed out that the next city council would make most of the decisions regarding the proposed facility.
City Manager Alfred Lott said the city is prepared to return in January or February to further discuss the project.