The city of Kenai moved one step closer to developing new soccer fields with the approval of a $250,000 appropriation by the city council Wednesday evening.
The money, which would be transferred from the city's general fund, will match a $251,548 National Park Service Land and Water Conservation Fund grant approved in August.
The 25-acre soccer park development to be built on vacant land the city owns adjacent to the Kenai Spur Highway north of town is scheduled for one final hearing during the council's Sept. 21 meeting, according to acting City Manager Chuck Kopp.
"I anticipate approval," Kopp said Thursday.
Initially the project calls for four regulation-size soccer fields to be built, along with a parking area.
The longer-range master plan for the development also includes softball playing fields and a BMX bike park, according to Kopp.
He said the recreation area eventually will have a building housing a snack bar, fixed toilets and possibly a pro shop in which players and fans can purchase sports gear.
Once the soccer park project clears all steps toward final approval, ground clearing, grass seeding and construction can get underway, and Kopp said he expects the new fields to be in full use for the 2007 soccer season.
Kenai Parks and Recreation Director Bob Frates has said the fields would be used for soccer "first and foremost" but also would be available for practice by Kenai Little League and Pop Warner football.
Currently, more than 1,000 Kenai youngsters play soccer at fields next to Kenai Middle School, Mountain View Elementary, Skyview High School and on city land at Millennium Square off Bridge Access Road.
Frates said the demand for practice and game fields is such that the new soccer fields would not pull from the existing venues.
Kopp said use of Millennium Park fields by the Kenai Peninsula Soccer Club is approved on a year-to-year basis by the city council.
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