AUBURN — The city will fast-track an inventory of athletic fields, hoping to include it in research leading to replacing Edward Little High School.
Councilors said they want a recreation master plan, which would include a broader study of all athletic facilities in the city.
"We need to have the inventory first before proceeding with a recreation master plan," Councilor Tizz Crowley said. "I would have preferred going forward with a master plan first, understanding that an inventory would be a part of it. But we're taking it in smaller steps."
City Manager Clinton Deschene said a comprehensive recreation study — which would not only count available fields and facilities but also suggest what the city is missing — would cost $35,000. He suggested breaking it into phases.
"There is a need to determine if recreational needs are being met," Deschene said. "But the athletic fields are the first stage: What we have for access, who is using it and how often. Then report back, do we have the adequate facilities?"
Deschene said the inventory would include all fields controlled and maintained by the city, as well as those maintained by private groups, including St. Dominic's, Central Maine Community College, the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Clubs.
Deschene suggested the city perform the inventory first, completing it sometime in February. It should cost the city $17,500.
Deschene said he has talked with four vendors that could do the work and suggested picking one of them instead of taking bids for the work. The study would be included in the school department's feasibility study of building a new high school.
"Depending on the time frame, we would report back in February, and that would work with the school facilities plan," Deschene said. "But if we do a full request for proposal, our time line would change drastically."
Councilors voted 7-0 to pay for the study, letting Deschene negotiate and hire consultants.
Deschene said the study would be funded from the city's unallocated bond proceeds account. The city currently has almost $300,000 in that account, he said.