By Yolanda McNary
A sports complex proposed for the city of Three Rivers continues to be on hold due to citizen opposition to the project.
In 2014, the St. Joseph County Commission granted $2.8 million to the city of Three Rivers to build a sports complex.
However, three years later, the project is at a standstill due to an ongoing lawsuit brought by concerned citizens opposed to the project.
Three groups that are in favor of the complex are the Three Rivers Little League, Three Rivers Rocket Football, and the American Youth Soccer Organization. The groups have partnered with the Three Rivers Area Community Foundation to help complete the steps in completing the project.
Three Rivers Mayor Tom Lowry favors the project in part because parents with children in multiple sports spend hours moving children from sporting event to sporting event. “We want to have a centralized location for these sports so that everyone can come to one area.”
In response to criticism about the proposed location on the outskirts of the city, Lowry said, “There is not enough land in the city, and so the city has been working with a private group of parents called the Field of Dreams. The group of parents ruled out any other options that the city was considering purchasing for space.”
When the project’s location was presented to the community, citizens in the area began to put their houses up for sale. “That is very unfortunate that those people do not feel like they can stay in the area because of the complex.” said Lowry, “but there are lots of people that would love to live close to the area.”
“I was very excited when I heard about the complex,” said Three Rivers citizen Crystal Heivilin. “Both of my kids play travel sports and they play multiple sports. To have my children in the same location no matter the sport that is in play, is great.”
Another parent agreed. “The benefits that I think the complex would provide to our community would be keeping kids out of trouble and on the fields,” said Jason Evans, a citizen of Three Rivers. “Look at the bigger picture, It’s not just about the people in that area, it’s about the future of the children. When I was in sports, it would have made a big difference because I had to travel out the city to play for good competition.”
But others want the location to be more easily accessible for all county residents. “If this complex is meant for the everybody in the county, why is it not in the center of the county — Centreville,” said Kristy Arevalo.
Arevalo is opposed to the continuation of the project, and her main concern is about the location of the potential complex. “If the city would consider different scenarios of where it could go, shrink the size of the complex and build it at the school, or revamp the areas that we do have, I would be more for the complex,” she said.
The City of Three Rivers has yet to break ground for the project due to a separate lawsuit with the township of Lockport. Lockport is in a battle with the city because Three Rivers wants to add on to the 80-acre property on which the sports complex is to be placed.
According to the lawsuit filed by the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners on Aug.28, the city of Three Rivers failed to honor a 2016 contract. The contract stated that the ground would be broken to start the build by Sept. 1, 2016 and be completed by July 1, 2018.