The opening this week of phase 1 of Odessa College’s Downtown project showed us a first class space that will be a fun gathering spot for Odessans for years to come.
Like Odessa’s downtown Marriott, this space adds new construction that shines up the look of downtown. A grand opening ceremony was held Thursday but the venue opens Tuesday (hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays during August).
The site, which was the old Odessa American building site for about 60 years, is designed for entertainment and education and includes two stages, an amphitheater, a splash pad, seating areas, restrooms and parking for food trucks. The college will have community events there.
After Labor Day, Odessa College will offer special programs such as yoga classes, live music, art classes and more. The project is a partnership between Odessa College, the City of Odessa, and Toby and Sondra Eoff.
Again, the Eoff’s come through for Odessa like they always do. Hotel motel tax dollars that were designated to go to the Marriott instead went to this project after the Eoff’s went to the city council and asked that the $1 million in funding go to the OC downtown project.
This week marked several times Odessans stepped up to do big things.
Groundwork at the new park in Desert Ridge started. Folks in that area (near 52nd and Grandview) took to social media to share their excitement that a long promised park was becoming a reality. That land was donated by local businessman Larry Lee, who, like the Eoff’s, finds ways to make great things happen for Odessans.
Longtime Odessans Larry and Ellen Bell also made major contributions to Odessa recently that could add an entire sports complex to the Parks Bell area off Highway 191 once fundraising is complete.
Bell and his family announced a few months ago they wanted to donate 100 acres to the city so it can build a $50 million sports complex in the Parks Bell Ranch area, north of Faudree Road.
The 80,000-100,000 square foot complex will feature 20 volleyball courts, 10 basketball courts and a track, plus 8-12 multi-purpose fields for soccer, football and lacrosse and up to eight baseball/softball fields.
City officials hope the complex will be paid for by corporate sponsorships and private donations. A move was made in that direction Tuesday to set up a nonprofit organization that will be named in honor of Larry and Ellen Bell’s late daughter, Amy Bell. The nonprofit will exist to accept donations for the private-public partnership to build the sports complex.
This is the largest partnership since the Eoff partnership with the City of Odessa to create the beautiful Marriott in downtown Odessa.
Bell told Odessa’s City Council that it is important to keep the legacy that “our parents and grandparents cared deeply about the community and taught us to give back to where you came from.”
He said his family has built a wonderful life here and that it is important to give back and to “pay it forward.”
Odessa’s Collin Sewell, who was named to the new board that will oversee the sports complex, thanked the Bell family Tuesday and urged unity and positivity going forward. “I think that it is interesting that everything starts with a dream … it’s come to pass in my own life … Mr. Bell you have taken a dream and created a vision for our community. I want to thank you … we need to take what was a dream and is now a vision and make it a reality … my hope is it will be a new cornerstone for what we are known for … focused on the future and not on the past and on family and not feuds … we can write an entire new chapter from the tree the Bell family has planted … make it something that makes the headlines for what the new Odessa looks like.”
Sewell, who transformed the 191 corridor with the Parks Legado project, is a renowned philanthropist and Odessa do-gooder. He hit the nail on the head with his remarks.
Move forward with a focus on the positive. Care for the trees planted in our community by good people with good intentions.
We thank the Bell, Lee and Eoff families for past gifts to the community and for these new gifts that keep pushing Odessa into the future. A brighter future.
Great things come from great families and Odessa has no shortage of great families giving back.