Construction on Manchester’s new youth soccer complex could begin as early as September or as late as next spring. But plans for the long-awaited complex are starting to come together regardless of the construction date.
The Manchester Recreation Commission met Thursday to start hammering out design plans with Jim Gilliam of Hart, Freeland and Roberts, Inc. The preliminary plans call for five soccer fields, two of which can be combined to form one, full-sized field.
“I know we have been trying to get this done for a long time now and it has been a lot of work from Park Partners and the youth soccer league,” said Bonnie Gamble, Director of Manchester Parks and Recreation.
The complex, which will be nestled in the recently-acquired park property deemed Manchester Sports Park at the corner of Waite St. And State Route 55, will be built in phases, with the first phase including the regulation field being completed with the exception of lights and security fencing. The first phase would also mean grading the other fields and installing gravel parking.
“Long term plans include picnic shelters, playground equipment, concessions and restrooms,” Gilliam explained to the recreation commission.
The first wave of funding will come mostly from Park Partners (a local non profit) and the Coffee County Soccer League, both of which will provide a combined donation to the tune of $125,000. The city government will pitch in $50,000 through in-kind contributions such as labor and man hours to bring the total to $175,000 and push the state-funded matching grant to its limit – meaning a total budget of $350,000.
The first phase will include laser-grading and sod for the field but will not include many amenities. Bathrooms and concessions will not be built as part of the first phase and the field will not be lit. Those plans are in for the future, though.
The timeline for completion was not clear. Gilliam said if the City moved quickly it could be completed by the spring, but he cautioned against rushing.
“We can push and can have it knocked out,” said Gilliam. “But those winter months are tough on sod if roots aren’t established.”
Gamble added, “taxpayers are going to want to have a field that is playable. They don’t want it rushed and the grass be all dead.”
David Young with Park Partners told the board that a spring completion date wasn’t necessary.
“Spring is a smaller participation season because of competition with baseball and softball,” he said. “We are willing to go though another [spring] to let the grass grow.”
The city does plan to install irrigation as part of its in-kind grant match.
Lighting each field will cost approximately $120,000, Gilliam said. Plans to lit the fields and add playground equipment, paved parking, concessions and restrooms are later in the design. Entrances will eventually be placed at Waite St. And Highway 55.
Currently, area youth soccer teams play games on the softball fields at Dave King Park and the Babe Ruth baseball field in Fred Deadman Park.
Read more in next week’s (July 17) print edition of the Manchester Times.