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Group’s Goal of New Soccer Field at Minocqua Park Falls Short

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Minocqua’s town board Tuesday turned down a request from an area youth soccer organization to construct a soccer field at the town-owned Minocqua Park Complex.

Will Tippett of Greater Lakeland Area Youth Soccer Organization (GLAYSO) said his group would like to build a U12 soccer field on the southeast side of the park, which would have required cutting some trees.

Construction cost of that one field was pegged at between $15,000 and $25,000. The finished space would have been 50 by 75 yards. GLAYSO would have picked all costs of that project.

They also want to use existing green spaces at the 27-acre park facility on Highway 70 West for additional soccer fields. Their goal is to move play from Arbor Vitae-Woodruff Elementary School (AV-W) to the town park.

The town had given permission to the association to use the park’s multiuse field for soccer last summer after AV-W closed the school and the grounds to the public due to the covid pandemic.

Parents soon discovered how well the Minocqua Park Complex suited their needs for a better playing field, expanded vehicle parking, indoor restrooms (ADA accessible) and drinking water availability, Tippett said.

Tippett, the coaches administrator, said last year saw a turnout of about 150 youth from ages 4 to 14, but that was half of what usually signs up. Their season goes from the last weekend in July to the first weekend in October. Practices take place Monday, Tuesday and Thursday with games wrapping up by noon on Saturdays.

GLAYSO was also looking to place five soccer fields on another area of the park, under a one-year trial basis. No construction was proposed.

Board opposed to new field

Town chairman Mark Hartzheim pushed back on the new soccer field proposal, saying town voters never consented to making the facility a sports complex when they authorized purchase of land for the park.

The park currently has four baseball fields with a concession stand, two sand volleyball courts and a multi-use field for football and soccer. There’s also a pavilion, playground and walking trail.

While the covid pandemic reduced the park usage last year, the prior year saw the park shelter reserved all summer except for one Saturday, Hartzheim noted. Among the users were wedding parties. “So it just goes to show that the public has a bigger interest in this than just sports,” Hartzheim remarked.

Supervisor Bill Stengl said he opposed cutting trees at the park. He, too, saw potential for user conflicts if soccer was expanded.

Hartzheim said the soccer fields at AV-W are adequate for their needs. The occasional times when low areas get soggy from rain are easily fixed, he added.

“I had two different kids involved in soccer for at least six straight years here,” Hartzheim reflected. “Was there on occasion a pool of water due to heavy rains, or the irrigation system wasn’t working just right. Yeah. Did anybody care? No. Did it affect anything really? Yeah, maybe a fall once or twice here and there if it was a little soggy. But this is youth soccer, I mean you roll with the punches.”

The town chairman said GLAYSO should work with AV-W to improve the their fields by filling in low spots, working on the irrigation and improving the playing surface.

Another GLAYSO representative indicated school officials have expressed concern about parents parking on the edge of the fields and bringing dogs. But Tippett asserted GLAYSO and the school have no conflicts overall.

“I never once did I say that we were never allowed back at AV-W,” Tippett said. “I don’t know where that was misconstrued, but that is not the case and that was never stated. What is being stated is that we would like to try to continue to use the 70 West Park Complex for soccer because the majority of the people that were involved with the club this year were amazed at how much better it was (than AV-W’s fields).”

On Wednesday, Tippett told this reporter that the soccer board will “have to assess the best course of action” for future play. “We are going to see if we can fit all the soccer fields on that one space (multi-use field at the park).” If so, they will request town board permission to again use the park.

In an unrelated matter, the board, after a short discussion, recommended the county approve a conditional use permit for Eagle River developer Glen Schiffmann who wants to build an eight-unit multi-family dwelling near downtown Minocqua. Future plans are to sell the units under a condominium style of ownership, he said.

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