Vision developing at Driver

Published 10:11 pm Wednesday, October 23, 2019

It’s something many people would like to see in Suffolk: a sports complex.

It would have fields, courts and other facilities for sports to be played, in addition to ancillary facilities like locker rooms, restrooms, concession stands and parking.

One can almost see the baseball players swinging, the soccer players kicking, the basketball players dunking, maybe even the swimmers taking that last stroke before they win first place.

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There’s no denying that Suffolk could benefit from more places to allow recreational and school teams to practice and compete. Such a facility would also provide another opportunity for young people — or at least, those young at heart — to spend their free time playing casual, unstructured “pickup” games.

In addition, a major sportsplex facility could host large-scale tournaments, bringing in those coveted tourism taxes — gas, lodging and meals — to our state, regional and local economy.

There would be all sorts of benefits — physical, social, economic and community-building — to the kind of sportsplex described above. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the former Driver Naval Radio Transmitting Facility is going to be it, and for good reason.

The vision for the property has long been referred to as a sportsplex or sports complex. But the capacity of roads in that area just won’t handle any major increase in traffic volume, city staff and consultants said at an informational meeting last week.

It sits off the two-lane Sleepy Hole Road, which one can only access by way of at least one other two-lane road, depending on which way one comes.

That means that the idea of a sportsplex, at least the vision most people have of such a facility, really isn’t going to work. It’s good that city staff and consultants have essentially realized the traffic issue up front, before trying to force a project that the city’s roads couldn’t handle. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the first time that happened.

We’ll reserve full judgment on the highest and best use for the Driver facility until the study is complete. We also, however, urge the city to consider a sports complex in another location at such time as the budget can handle it. It would be a good addition to the city.