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Lighting project planned for popular Orcutt park to increase field access

Orcutt Community Park
Youth baseball players practice at Orcutt Community Park. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

ORCUTT, Calif. – A lighting project planned for a popular Orcutt park will help provide greater field availability to the community, helping ease an increasing need for additional athletic facilities in the Santa Maria Valley.

"(Santa Barbara County) has been engaged in a countywide recreation Master Plan for about a year and a half, two years," said Jeff Lindgren, Santa Barbara County Parks Deputy Director. "Part of that is developing a needs assessment across the county and the Santa Maria Valley is one of our recreational planning areas that we've been analyzing, and not a surprise to anyone, but, one of the top needs identified is a need for sports fields of all sorts, whether it's, for growing rugby teams or lacrosse teams, or more traditional sports that we've been seeing for years, like soccer and baseball and softball, so there's a big need for all sorts of facilities for all of those, all those types of sports, for particularly for youth."

The project will install lighting on both the upper and lower fields at Orcutt Community Park, located in the Rice Ranch housing development.

"There's two soccer fields and two softball baseball diamonds at Orcutt Community Park," said Lindgren. "We have the opportunity to add some permanent lighting that we can use during the short, daylight hours, during the winter months. It'll provide, really nice LED lighting on some bronze-colored poles. All of the light fixtures are shielded, so they have visors on them to direct the light directly onto the sports field, so there's no spillover into the neighborhoods and the surrounding environment."

The park is extremely busy throughout the entire year, especially for local sports teams, who use the facility for both practices and games. The facility is also a favorite site for other daily recreational activities for community members of all ages.

"From soccer, baseball, bike riders, walking, families walking their dogs and pushing strollers," said Pete Adame, Pete Adame, Crusaders Football Club President. "The park gets a lot of use."

Local soccer and baseball teams in particular use the park and often have to use the field at the same time.

"We have to share fields with baseball right now," said Adame. "There's always a crunch for fields."

Currently, there is no lighting on the two fields, limiting access during nighttime hours, a problem especially during the fall and winter seasons.

"It does have a great impact on us," said Adame. "In the winter time, we usually have to rent lights at a pretty expensive cost to the club, so that we can practice after 5:00 p.m."

In an effort to extend field access, Santa Barbara County Parks is planning to install state-of-the-art LED lighting on the fields, which will increase the hours of operation several hours.

"After daylight savings comes to a close, around early November actually gets dark a little bit earlier in October, the sun goes down around 5:00 to 5:30 pm.," said Lindgren. "That's about the time that parents are available to take their children to practices and sporting events during the during the fall and winter months, so this will give them several more hours of field time, so they can practice and actually even play some games if that's what's desired."

Adame, who oversees several Crusaders teams, pointed out how permanent lighting will be a game changer for both his organization, as well as other youth and other recreational sports in the community.

"It could actually double or triple the field space usage for us," said Adame. "It would be nice to enjoy the park for longer hours."

Final approval is needed from the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, who will vote on the project next month.

"With the leadership from Supervisor (Bob) Nelson and the Board of Supervisors, we've been able to to, cobble together some funding to to build this project," said Lindgren. "It'll be, going to the Board of Supervisors for its final approval, sometime in middle of June. Some of (the funding) comes from the Board of Supervisors general fund, and some of the funding is from American Recovery Act funding. The total project cost is estimated to be around $1 million."

According to Lindgren, with the Board of Supervisors approval next month, construction could as soon as this summer, with completion targeted for sometime in the fall.

Article Topic Follows: Outdoors

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Dave Alley

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