Centre College is moving forward with plans to locate two new sports fields on land once occupied by some agricultural landmarks.
In the last several months, the college has acquired the former Boyle County Stockyards and Farmers Tobacco Warehouse No. 1 sites, property bound by Russell Street to the north, Dillehay Street to the south, Hope Street on the east and Beatty Avenue on the west.
One of the architect’s drawings also includes a softball diamond northwest of the multipurpose field. Strysick said plans to build a facility for softball, which currently is played at Millennium Park, are not as far along as the multipurpose field, but if it were built, its proximity to Russell Street would likely necessitate a short left field with a higher fence reminiscent of Fenway Park in Boston.
If everything goes according to plan, Strysick said the college wants to start building by Thanksgiving in hope of having the multipurpose field available for the spring season.
To honor the impact that both the tobacco warehouse and stockyards have had on local life, Strysick said a double-sided display is planned that will include history about the businesses and names of individuals and families who worked much of their lives to make them what they were.
The construction of the multipurpose field also will involve asking the city of Danville to shut down Short Street, which runs between Beatty Avenue and Hope Street, to make the field regulation size for both field hockey and lacrosse. Strysick said Centre also may ask the city to shut down Hope Street on the east side of the multipurpose field to allow more parking.
Centre already has moved forward with work on a $15 million residential commons, which created a need to turn what had been used as a field hockey field into additional parking. Strysick said the new configuration will allow for 103 additional parking spaces.
While planning for more student beds in the central portion of the campus, Strysick said parking spaces are being moved more toward the periphery. New lots to take up slack for those spaces lost from construction will be moved to areas to the south and west, including what had been the field hockey field along Beatty Avenue.
The college will maintain the option of moving forward with a version of the plan without closing the streets, but Strysick said a regulation field would be ideal because it could be used for several sports, creating the potential for tournaments for both college and local athletic teams. He pointed to the numerous sports camps the college runs during the summer.
“We want to do something that could be mutually beneficial, not only for our athletes, but for Danville and Boyle County,” Strysick said. “The kinds of tournaments that could be held here would bring people into the community who will stay overnight in hotels and spend money at local businesses.”
Danville Mayor Bernie Hunstad said Centre officials approached Interim City Manager John W.D. Bowling about closing Short and Hope streets, a plan he said would make sense to consider now that Centre owns the surrounding property. Hunstad said it likely would require surplusing the streets and possibly holding a public hearing. The matter currently is being reviewed by City Attorney Vince Pennington.
Hunstad acknowledged the city may undertake its own road project in the same area.
Improvement projects for Beatty Avenue and Roy Arnold Boulevard were on the agenda at Monday’s Danville City Commission meeting, but no action was taken. Hunstad said City Engineer Earl Coffey has been working on several scenarios for possibly connecting city streets to deal with the significant amount of traffic that flows through and around Centre’s campus.
Hunstad said there would have to be a traffic study, and Strysick said the college would support a thorough study.