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A crowd of over 40 people called for soccer fields and other amenities during a community meeting Thursday to gather public input on a proposed sports field complex in Santa Maria, just south of the cemetery.

Held at the Veterans’ Memorial Community Center, the meeting was held in advance of a planned application for a Proposition 68 grant, which provides money to create parks and protect forests and wetlands.

sports complex site map

A map of the site for a proposed sports field complex in Santa Maria was shown during a community meeting at the Veterans' Memorial Community Center on Thursday. 

City officials submitted a pre-grant proposal for funds to build out the sports complex on a 12-acre site located north of Betteravia and west of College Drive, adjacent to the Santa Maria Cemetery District. The site is currently owned by the cemetery district and would be acquired by the city, should the project be funded.

Dennis Smitherman, a management analyst with the Recreation and Parks Department, said the city will begin the full grant application in a few weeks if the pre-grant proposal is approved.

On Thursday, 20 people spoke during an hourlong meeting to give their thoughts on what design elements were most important to them in the proposed complex.

Fields of multiple sizes, bleachers, parking for food trucks, solar panels, bright lighting, an on-site community center and a snack bar or concession stand were among the proposed amenities.

What do you think of the preliminary plan for a sports field complex in Santa Maria?

A crowd of over 40 people called for soccer fields and other amenities during a community meeting Thursday to gather public input on a proposed sports field complex in Santa Maria, just south of the cemetery. Held at the Veterans’ Memorial Community Center, the meeting was held in advance of a planned application for a Proposition 68 grant. City officials submitted a pre-grant proposal for funds to build out the sports complex on a 12-acre site located north of Betteravia and west of College Drive, adjacent to the Santa Maria Cemetery District. The site is currently owned by the cemetery district and would be acquired by the city, should the project be funded.

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Hazel Davalos, of CAUSE, said she wanted to see a complex that was capable of hosting large-scale soccer tournaments.

“That’s great for tourism and generating revenue for the city,” she said.

On the topic of what sorts of sports fields should be included, participants gave mixed responses between whether the site should be devoted solely to soccer or be designed to accommodate a variety of sports.

“We want a soccer complex,” said one man, emphasizing the word "soccer." “There are only 12 acres, think about that. That’s barely enough for a small number of soccer fields. We want a 20- to 25-field soccer complex.”

Others said there was a lack of facilities for football and basketball and those needed to be included.

“You can’t just say you want it all — you have to remember there’s a lot of kids that play multiple sports,” he said.

Two people suggested the project site was perhaps ill-considered and not large enough for the multi-sports complex that was being sought.

“I like all the ideas I’ve heard, and I like the idea of a big sports complex,” one community member said. “But 12 acres — I’m not sure that’s enough space. I really think this is not the right place. I think for all of what we want, it’s going to be shortsighted to have that location.”

Smitherman said the location for this grant application was for the 12-acre site but that more funding could potentially be available for additional locations in the future.

“For this process, for what we’re doing tonight, is specifically about that piece of property,” he said. “But Prop 68 has funding sources through 14 [or] 15 different agencies. Hundreds of millions of dollars.

“But we’re sitting here talking about this 12-acre piece of land because that’s what this specific grant we wrote for is about.” he continued. “Is it enough? Probably not. Would we like 20 acres? Yes, absolutely. But there are still 14 different agencies and some — not all — will fund additional park projects.”

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Razi Syed covers Santa Maria City Government for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.  Follow him on Twitter @razisyed

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City Government

Razi Syed covers city government for the Santa Maria Times. He is a graduate of Fresno State University and New York University.