Archive for Thursday, May 19, 2011

Residents concerned about soccer fields at WyCo Park

May 19, 2011

It appears Wyandotte County Park will enjoy at least one more summer in its current condition in northern Bonner Springs before construction of a soccer complex takes over much of the park.

County officials say they are waiting for Sporting KC to submit a design plan for the 18-field, tournament-quality soccer fields that were part of the deal to bring the Livestrong Sporting Park soccer stadium and Cerner office development to the VillageWest area. So it appears area residents can plan to make use of the park as usual this summer.

Thinking construction of the soccer fields might be able to begin this year, the county’s Parks and Recreation Department decided to hold off on allowing shelter reservations May through September in the park as it usually does. This is as not to conflict with any announced starting date for construction of the soccer complex, according to director Gary Salva.

“Once we found out that we were safe in assuming no development would occur through July 4 weekend, we did open up reservations,” he said.

This occurred in March, but it was only more recently that the department decided to accept reservations for the remainder of the year, as well. It began taking shelter reservations for July 5 through the end of September on May 11.

That is because it appears the development of the soccer field complex has been held off while Sporting KC concentrates on completing Livestrong Sporting Park in time for Sporting KC’s homeopener, according to Edwin Birch, public information officer for the county.

When the county made the agreement to bring Sporting KC and Cerner to the area in a public/private partnership financed in part by $147 million in Star Bonds and $85 million of state tax credits and cash for job creation, the $30 million tournament complex in the park was to be built before the end of 2012.

Dave Borchardt, spokesman for Sporting KC, said the organization remains committed to building the youth field complex, as is required by the agreement with the county, but continues to work with the county on a timeline.

A preliminary design layout of the soccer fields distributed when the county approved the development deal shows soccer fields and parking placed along the northern areas of the park, as well as four fields northwest of the Wyandotte County Historical Museum and eight baseball fields southwest of the museum.

Such a takeover of the park concerns some area residents, like Anne Erickson.

“I’ve just been concerned that another park is being taken out of the public use with no public input,” she said. “It’s one of the only safe parks in this area … there’s other places they could develop without taking one of our nice, safe recreational spaces out.”

Birch said the county had to consider the draw of a tournament-quality soccer complex, designed to attract national soccer tournaments, versus the use the park is currently getting.

“You’re talking about tens of thousands of people coming in for a soccer park, and when you weigh that against how many people use that park now … one weighs out the other,” he said.

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