Jackson could take ownership of 25-acre soccer park next week

Saturday, September 4, 2004

The development of Jackson's long-anticipated soccer park is still a long way from finished, but park association organizers and city officials are trying to score a major goal by Tuesday night.

Jackson city administrator Jim Roach said if everything plays out according to plan, the city could take ownership of the 25 acres of land -- currently owned by the Jackson Industrial Development Corp. -- at Tuesday's board of aldermen meeting. If the proper documents can't be drawn up and the necessary consultations don't go well, the transfer of property may have to wait another two weeks, two precious weeks depending on when the weather turns cold and wet this fall.

Soccer park officials are crossing their fingers that the park can be opened next spring.

The city must take possession of the property before spending any of the $150,000 federal grant. The soccer park association, organized and run by parents, has already finished a lot of work preparing the property. The group raised $120,000 and tried to get as much work done as possible before the city took ownership because the group is not subject to the same wage laws as the city is. In other words, businesses can donate labor to the park association. The city cannot accept volunteered labor.

So far, most of the grade work is finished.

The city expects to receive bids on the grant-funded work Tuesday morning. The board could also take action to accept bids for fine grading, seeding, irrigation and plumbing at the park.

The 16-field complex has been a major undertaking. The project has had several setbacks, and the projected completion date has been pushed back on several occasions.

"We're full steam ahead right now," said Jack Litz, president of the Jackson Soccer Park Association.

Litz said the park's opening this spring depends on Mother Nature.

"All the people I've talked to about the grass around here say it depends on what kind of fall and winter we have," he said. "Whether or not we'll be able to play on some or any of the fields in the spring is still to be determined."

Roach said before the city takes action, it will have to consult with Margaret Yates of the SEMO Regional Planning Commission to make sure everything complies with the grant. Yates wrote the grant application.

He also said the city is working on getting specific land descriptions.

While the Jackson Industrial Development Corp. currently owns the land, those acres are in a flood plain and are not suitable for industrial development.

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-6635

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