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DECATUR — Batting cages next to the ropes course and mini golf course at Nelson Park could be ready for swings by mid-May.

The Decatur Park District Board approved Wednesday the bid from Otto Baum Company in Decatur for construction of the batting cages and site work, with a total cost of $372,240, a portion of which was covered by a 2015 Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant.

There will be four stations in the cage, with the ability for users to adjust pitch speed and height, and use baseballs or softballs. A $1.50 token will buy 15 pitches, though the cage can also be rented by intervals of 15 ($10), 30 ($18) and 60 ($32) minutes.

Decatur Park District Director of Operations Ryan Raleigh said the target date for the batting cages to open is May 15.

The adjacent Nelson Park ropes course is on schedule for its April 1 opening. Much of the construction is occurring this week and Raleigh said it's expected to be finished by March 23.

“They started delivery Monday and they started putting it up yesterday (Tuesday) and today,” Raleigh said. “You can see the big, metal structure and the poles as you go by. It’s pretty impressive.”

The board also approved soft flooring for the outdoor fitness park that Raleigh said will open this summer in Nelson Park near the dog park and disc golf course.

The fitness park will be free to use and include more than 20 exercise features including stationary bikes, chest and leg presses, balance stations, chin-up bars and plyometric boxes.

Mary Cave of Chastain and Associates, an engineering consulting firm, said May 15 is a tight deadline for finish of the batting cages, a project that’s had several bumps in the road even since the delayed OSLAD grant funds were released. Raleigh said a number of modifications had to be made because of decisions on the aquatic center and the batting cages will be built just southwest of the original plan.

“We’ve had to change locations of it a few times,” Raleigh said. “We had to change the grades, which created more work. And then we need ADA accessible sidewalks and lighting. There’s been a lot of site prep and extra cost.”

The park district closed the batting cages it had near Paul's Puttin' Place when it opened Overlook Adventure Mini Golf Course in 2014.

The park district already has all the equipment for fitness park, also an OSLAD grant project, but needs to put in sidewalks, a curb around the outside of the area and soft flooring before it’s finished.

The park district was originally going to use concrete as the flooring, but — even though the area is designed for 13 and older — decided to go with a similar rubber surface as is used at the Scovill Zoo playground.

“It ended up being a savings to us because concrete is more expensive,” Raleigh said.

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Outdoor fitness area

A look at the equipment that will be featured at the new outdoor fitness area at Nelson Park.

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Sports Editor

Sports editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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