Elkhorn Soccer Club seeks new field

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Darryl Enriquez
Monday, January 10, 2011
— The Elkhorn Soccer Club is asking the city for $70,000 to improve and expand playing fields and parking at Rotary Soccer Park.

A top city official responded that, if approved, financing for the project should be included in 2012 borrowing and all future projects should be at least partly funded by groups proposing them.

The request goes to the city council's finance and judicial committee at 5 p.m. today at Elkhorn City Hall, 9 S. Broad St.

Since the late 1980s, the soccer club has helped children ages 4 to 17 learn to play recreational soccer. The club has eight-week seasons in the fall and spring and sponsors summer leagues. The club will host a Milwaukee WAVE summer camp in July.

The club's dilemma is similar to many soccer programs: a shortage of playing fields and parking.

The city is facing its own shortage: a lack of money, City Administrator Sam Tapson said, and discussion of the club's request likely will dwell more on financing than on need.

If Rotary Soccer Park had more space for practice and games, the club would be less dependent on other city and school facilities, could host a tournament to bring revenue to the city and would develop better players for high school programs, according to a statement from the club.

"Parents often complain because they must be in two to three different locations with children of different ages," according to the statement.

Resolutions include addressing poor field conditions by tilling 450 tons of sand into the topsoil, installing drain tile and grading the site. To increase parking, a gravel lot would be installed west of the concession stand.

The club also wants to install an additional playing field, which would require removing trees, stripping topsoil and adding a 12-inch storm sewer pipe. Benches and bleachers would be needed along the new field.

John Utesch, club president, was unavailable for additional comment.

In a written response to the club's proposal, Director of Parks & Recreation Jeff Simons said city officials might first want to set recreational priorities and plug them into annual capital improvement budgets. In that way, borrowing could be planned to finance improvements.

Tapson said no planned financing has been set aside for the soccer club's proposal.

The city has $73,000 in a park dedication fund, but the committee would need to discuss whether it should be used for the $70,000 project, he said.

"While the project has merit, there are some considerations that must be taken into account before a decision can be made," Simons wrote. "At the forefront has to be the funding for the project.

"Where will the funding for the project come from? Currently, there are two current accounts that we can possibly use. The first is from general fund reserves and the second is from the park dedication fund.

"If we were to use this account, it would nearly deplete the account."

Simons wrote that outside groups have asked the city to finance many projects, including new baseball fields, a skate park, a dog park, new soccer fields and a new swimming pool.

"In these tough economic times, with shrinking revenues and fewer dollars available to spend for capital improvements, I feel the department needs to prioritize projects," Simons wrote.

"If we were to take on this project, I feel that it should be budgeted for the 2012 capital improvement projects. Also, I feel that if a group requests any additional projects, they should raise a portion of the money for the project. The city in turn would match what the group has raised. This would ensure a buy-in from all parties."

Last updated: 4:07 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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