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Fri, Sept. 18

Plans for Tusayan/Grand Canyon sports complex center creep forward

After five years, community members are hopeful that expansion of the Tusayan sports complex will begin. (courtesy of Mike McMillan)

After five years, community members are hopeful that expansion of the Tusayan sports complex will begin. (courtesy of Mike McMillan)

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — A partnership between the town of Tusayan and the Grand Canyon Unified School District (GCUSD) is moving forward with plans to improve the school sports complex off Long Jim Loop Road.

After the town council approved a budget for the first phase of the project during a town council meeting last month, Tusayan Mayor Craig Sanderson presented tentative plans to the school board.

According to Tusayan town manager Charlie Hendrix, the priority behind this project is to improve the educational lives of children and community members in the areas served by Grand Canyon School.

Plans for the complex are meant to expand on structures already in place on the lot by providing areas for students to learn and play. These expansions include a number of regulation-sized sports fields, and an outdoor classroom area, which, given the current pandemic, is the first priority for the council. The hope is to begin work on it by this fall.

This project is the result of a partnership between the town and school that goes back almost five years.

In 2015, the two groups created an intergovernmental agreement (IGA), which resulted in the construction of the structures currently on the lot including a basketball court, tot lot, picnic tables and restrooms.

These were completed between 2015 and 2016.

At the recent town budget meeting, the council created a new IGA for the project, giving it the money and support needed to move forward. The IGA created a work group staffed by two members from each of the organizations. As the project progresses, the groups collaborate to create preliminary plans before presenting them to both the town and the school for approval. Hendrix said the local community is included as well.

“(They will be) giving input through the public hearing processes of each public body,” she said. “The idea is to fully vet and provide public input into the process of planning.”

Tentative plans were presented at the July 15 school board meeting, focusing both on outlining a big picture as well as developing plans and priorities for the first stages of the project. Ideas currently at the top of the list are those with the potential to help students succeed in an unusual era of learning.

“The town would like approval to build an outdoor classroom this fall, but that will be up to the school,” Hendrix said.

Other ideas discussed included which sports to prioritize and the ability to make new fields regulation size.

Nothing was up for an official vote at the board meeting, but the work committee was given permission to continue developing their ideas. An updated version of the plan is expected to be presented at a school board meeting later this month.

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