Prattville’s Next Steering Group shares vision of sports complex

Residents gather at Doster Center for Prattville's Next program - Photo by Marc Parker

Prattville – The concept of having a Civic & Sportsplex in the city was further explored Monday night as over one hundred interested citizens came together at the Doster Center to have questions answered and concerns resolved.

Lenny Schaefer, a member of the Prattville’s Next Steering Group, made introductions to dignitaries and other members of the committee, then turned the program over to Joe Reynolds, Prattville Flying Fish coach.

“Our vision is that one day or one day soon Prattville will have the facilities and determination to provide regionally recognized, high quality recreation, and leisure services,” said Reynolds.

Reynolds continued by explaining why the city should have this complex; the citizens deserve it, there are no facilities here now commensurate with other communities, and Prattville is the perfect location to have a sportsplex of that magnitude.

Prattville Mayor Jim Byard Jr. recognized this as a “citizen-led” on-going effort.

“This is a rolling conversation,” the mayor said. “I don’t think anyone is going to leave here tonight with answers about where and when we’re going to build what.”

Prattville Mayor Jim Byard Jr. addresses the crowd at the Doster Center - Photo by Marc Parker

“I think what Prattville’s Next wanted to do is just to roll out and let folks see what is going on and let you folks talk to the Steering Committee, the elected leadership of our community, and continue this rolling conversation,” he continued.

The cost of the project was the foremost concern in Prattville resident Jon Lee Finnegan’s mind.

“I am for it because it is in Project Prattville; however, not to add any debt to the debt we already have in the city,” Finnegan said. “If it’s funded some other way, that’s fine.”

Ricky Smith of Verbena, wants the sportsplex simply because of convenience.

“I’ve got to drive my step-daughter a hundred miles all the way out to AUM just to sign her up for ball games,” he said. “I take her to a game every Saturday.”

After the meeting, Byard addressed the issue of funding the project, to cost an estimated $8-12 million to get started on the first phase.

“Now is not the time to be raising taxes because our economy is struggling,” said Byard. “But, there will be hard questions asked … this is a rolling conversation where people are going to be coming up with a lot of different questions as we go along.”

The mayor also stated that although the proposed complex calls for a multipurpose community center with activities for seniors, he would not support the closing of the Gillespie Center.

Representative Mac Gipson, Bobby Bright’s representative Oscar Berry, and members of the City Council were also in attendance during Monday night’s meeting.

For more information on Prattville’s Next, go to

Article by Melissa Parker

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