published Thursday, April 9th, 2009

East Ridge OKs lights at Camp Jordan

by Elizabeth Ryan

About 60 East Ridge baseball and softball players, their parents and coaches turned out Thursday night for the City Council’s vote to approve new lighting for the fields at Camp Jordan.

The city council approved a $2 million bond initiative from the Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund to pay for the project, which is estimated to cost about $985,000. The city has said improvements to Camp Jordan could help raise new revenue by helping it attract tournaments and events. Last year, softball and baseball tournaments at the 257-acre site had an economic impact of more than $1 million on area businesses, according to City Manager William Whitson.

“The impediment to bringing in these additional tournaments and high quality events is the poor lighting, so we’ve got to be able to come up with the funding to change that very quickly,” he said. “This mechanism was available so I felt like, ‘Let’s take advantage of it now while the interest rates are rather low.’”

Under the terms of the bond offering, the city will borrow $2 million over a 12-year term, with an interest rate of 2.24 percent, according to Mr. Whitson. The unused portion of the money will be invested, he said, to raise additional revenue for the city until the loan is repaid in full.

Kevin Wright, commissioner of baseball and softball at Camp Jordan, said the investment was long overdue.

“We have been trying to get lights down there at Camp Jordan for as long as I can remember,” he said. “They’re old they’ve outlived their time. People don’t want to bring a major tournament to an area if you don’t have adequate lighting, so now that we have new lights on the way, we’re very excited.”

Triad Corp. of Chattanooga was approved as the contractor for the project Thursday. Work is expected to begin in May.

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