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Funding approved for long-planned new Santa Maria sports complex

SM sports complex
Artist rendering of a proposed new sports complex in Santa Maria. (Courtesy Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Funding to build a long-planned new sports complex in Santa Maria has been approved.

"On Tuesday night, the Santa Maria City Council approved a budget, which means we have funding for the upcoming sports complex project," said Dennis Smitherman, Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department Recreation Services Manager. "We're really excited to continue to move forward to use grant funds, county funds and city fund to hopefully make this project come to fruition."

The project would be built on an undeveloped piece of property that is currently being used for agriculture at the busy intersection of Depot Street and Battles Road.

"Right now, the property we're looking at is right in the northern heart of Santa Maria," said Smitherman. "It's a great 19-acre plot where we will have four fields and additional amenities on."

Adding additional fields is something many, if not most, within local sports organizations, especially soccer, say is badly needed.

"There is not enough space here in Santa Maria," said Juan Velasco, with Central City Soccer. "We utilize a total of our four fields, plus we use some in Orcutt. There's simply not enough and this would alleviate some pressure off the city."

This week, councilmembers voted to approve a pair of grants, $6.5 million from the state, $1.5 million from the county, as well as $1 million from the city itself.

Totalling $9 million, the money will build the complex and also purchase the land.

"It's held by a local family trust, so we're continuing to work with them to hopefully purchase the property down the road," said Smitherman.

Supporters of the athletic complex say it will enhance the ability to attract tournaments to Santa Maria, which will benefit not just the local sports community, but the entire city as well.

"Hotels, restaurants, gas stations," said Velasco. "It will benefit everybody at the end of the day."

Smitherman said building the sports complex has been a top priority for the Recreation and Parks department over the past decade.

"The process actually started about 10 years ago with the city trying to acquire funding to create this project, and that came after many, many community meetings and community stakeholders coming to meetings and sharing with us their needs for the community," said Smitherman. "It's definitely wanted by the community. We've heard it over and over again and we're making every effort to make it happen."

Before any shovels can dig into the ground, Smitherman said the city still has quite a bit more work to complete.

"It's not a quick process," said Smitherman. There's lots of hoops to jump through as far as grants go, and local matching sources, so we want to make sure that we're dotting all those i's and crossing all those t's, so we are moving forward with the design work right now, and we'll have a finished design and construction documents ready to go, so if the land purchase is approved, we can just be ready to hit the ground running.

Smitherman said the Recreation and Parks Department would have a better understanding of a timeline at some point within the next several months.

"In the next couple of months, what we're looking for is to get those design documents completed, the construction paperwork ready to go," said Smitherman. "Hopefully, we'll have that done in the next 60-to-90 days. As far as purchasing the property, as we know, that can take a little bit longer, but really we hope to have something on the books as far as a schedule and timeline by the beginning of the year.

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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.

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