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Milton council reviews draft for soccer complex

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
May 5, 2010
— The city of Milton could lease 20 acres of farmland to a local youth soccer club for just $1 a year, provided the club pays to develop and maintain the property.

The city council on Tuesday reviewed a draft for lease of a 20-acre parcel of city-owned land along Highway 26 on the city’s north end. The Milton Soccer Club wants to develop the site into an eight-field soccer complex with amenities to give its 700 youth players a centralized location for games and practices.


Club officials have been in talks with city staff in recent weeks about a possible lease and development deal for the property, which is on the east side of the 200 block of Highway 26, behind a residential area and bordering on a city well, officials said.


According to the lease draft, the city would allow the soccer club to rent the parcel for 15 years at no cost, provided the club pay for development and maintenance at the site.


The city now collects about $1,500 a year in rent for the property from a tenant who uses it for farming, said Nancy Zastrow, city clerk.


The site already is zoned for residential and recreational use, officials said.


Soccer club officials have said they have funding lined up for the proposed soccer complex, but haven’t released specific figures. It’s unclear how much the development could cost.


“It’s just too preliminary,” Milton Soccer Club Vice President Rich Deininger told the Gazette at Tuesday night’s council meeting. “We’re still finalizing plans, and we don’t have bids yet. But the idea is to get the fields established first.”


Club officials have said if the lease and development deal are approved, the park could be ready for soccer games by spring 2012.


Under the lease draft, the club would be responsible for funding grading, paved parking and utilities at the site. The lease also says the club would take over mowing and landscaping, a tradeoff City Administrator Todd Schmidt said would repay the city for lost rent.


Also, the club would have to pave an entrance to the park from Highway 26, and would have to maintain a secondary gravel access road running east to Storrs Lake that the city uses for an emergency route. Officials said the club would have to negotiate an easement for land near the access road, which is private property.


“I’ve made contact with the (property owner). They’ll be getting back to me,” Deininger told the council Tuesday.


Alderperson Maxine Striegl said while she understood the club would be making a financial commitment to develop the soccer complex, she’s uncomfortable with the city granting a 15-year lease for the property.


“It’s kind of tying up our chances,” Striegl said. “I’m a little concerned about 15 years tying up the possibility of industry or something coming in.”


Officials made no move on the issue Tuesday, and site plans for the soccer complex would have to be approved regardless of any lease deal.


Still, Alderman Brett Frazier said he supports the lease and club-funded development.


“We’re not putting (the development) on the backs of taxpayers,” Frazier said. “This is the kind of thing we should be doing more.”



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