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New soccer complex proposed for Santa Maria

The City of Santa Maria is a step closer to building much-needed new soccer fields. Earlier this week, City Council members authorized a proposal to submit an application for a $1 million state grant, which would be used to help build a soccer complex at the corner of Stowell and Depot Streets.

“The concept right now is to create on 19-acres of property, that has been zoned for public facilities and open space, a future development project that would accommodate up to seven soccer fields, and that would include parking for several hundred cars and restrooms,” said Recreation and Parks Director Alex Posada.

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The “California Youth Soccer and Recreation Development Grant” is intended for municipalities in densely populated, low-income urban areas. State of California Parks is offering the grant money. Cities that receive the grants can use the money to build recreational facilities, such as soccer, baseball and softball fields, basketball courts and other sporting venues.

“Certainly the site that we’re looking at meets that criteria,” said Posada. “It’s very close to a number of schools. The high school is only two blocks away. Adam and Jimenez schools are a few blocks away, and Sanchez school is just across the street, so it’s a good location, public transportation is close by, everybody knows the location by the Fairpark.”

The project is not to be confused with another soccer proposal that is currently being organized in a joint effort by One Community Action Coalition and various local soccer organizers. The group is in the early stages of trying to build a massive destination soccer facility that could ultimately bring thousands of visitors to the area annually, while generating millions of dollars.

Posada acknowledges this project is on a smaller scale, but notes that the timetable to build it is much quicker.

“Our immediate goal as a city is to find a project that we can deliver new soccer fields to the community and that we can deliver them in a timely manner, and that’s really what we’re looking at this property,” Posada said.

If Santa Maria receives the full $1 million grant, it would need an additional $325,000 to finish the first planned phase, which would include two fields, a parking lot and restrooms.

Posada said the overall cost of the project will be between $3 million to $4 million, leaving a significant gap that will need to be filled.

“We would be looking at future state grants, private foundation grants, working with soccer groups to try and see what in their national organizations would be available, and then there would be our own local fundraising efforts,” Posada said.

The City will submit its application for the grant on Nov. 1. City leaders will learn whether or not they’re approved by spring 2017. If the application is successful, shovels could dig into the ground in 2018, which means the first soccer balls could be kicked sometime in 2019.

“We think it’s deliverable,” said Posada. “We think it’s possible given the financial constraints that the community has right now. I think it’s a great project.”

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