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Hartselle building soccer complex
City hopes to open 6-field
facility in fall

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com 340-2469

HARTSELLE — A former wilderness for raccoons and possums is slowly becoming the recreation Mecca of Hartselle.

Although progress has been slow, Park and Recreation Director Frank Miller hopes that workers will have Hartselle's soccer complex to a point that players can use the fields in the fall.

"That's ambitious because we're doing most of the work, and the county is helping us when they can," he said.

The grant money Hartselle is using sets a 2008 deadline for the city.

$3 million complex

Because of grants and in-kind work, Hartselle will have what amounts to a more than $3 million complex when fields, lighting, parking, bathrooms and concession stands are finished.

The city's total input will probably be less than $500,000.

"I can't say enough about the workers in Public Works," Miller said. "They cut all the trees, removed the stumps and have moved a lot of the soil."

Miller estimates that a contractor would have charged the city $500,000 for what city and county workers have done for less than $50,000.

The entire complex will spread over more than 40 acres and include six regulation-size fields. The city can covert those fields into 10 youth fields.

"What will be nice about this is that we will have all of our recreational facilities in one location," Miller said.

Currently, soccer plays games in Grady Long Park and at two fields on Walker Road. Hartselle has three fields dedicated to soccer.

As early as 1990, city leaders talked about constructing a soccer complex. Initially, the Parks and Recreation board wanted to build the soccer fields on eight acres of city-owned property near Railroad Street.

Hartselle used the property for more than 50 years for athletics, but the cemetery board said city leaders promised it for cemetery expansion.

In December 2002, the council hired an engineering firm to prepare a soccer complex plan but almost two years later decided to move the complex.

The previous administration received two grants totaling $156,250 and used that money to buy 38 acres on Groover Road for the soccer complex. The current administration spent $86,000 to buy an additional 1.1 acres.

Progress hasn't been as fast as some soccer moms hoped. But Miller, more so than anyone else, knows how important it is to get the complex complete.

Soccer is the fastest growing recreational sport in Hartselle as it is in most of the Tennessee Valley. In almost 10 years, the number of children participating in soccer has reached more than 400.

Once the soccer complex opens, Miller said, he'll be able to add sports such as an adult softball league.

"We can't do that right now because most of our softball fields double for soccer," he said.

Hartselle, a community where the prep baseball teams have won six state championships, could have as many as 100 adult softball teams.

"I get requests all the time," Miller said about adult softball.

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