The future of the Sherman Soccer Complex located on Griffin Drive in Gateway may be in jeopardy.

Several members of the Board of Supervisors of the GSCDD made comments at the most recent board meeting alluding to the possibility that they plan on evaluating whether having soccer fields are a worthwhile public investment.

The board was listening to Ryan Ruskay of RMPK Funding about federal grant possibilities that may be available to Gateway when board members began a line of questioning about conditions that would be attached to the money.

Specifically, the board asked if they accepted grant money for the soccer fields would it then be a requirement that the soccer fields remain in place for a specific amount of time. The board then explained to Ruskay that they weren’t 100% sure if the soccer fields were still a part of Gateway’s plans in the future so they didn’t want to paint themselves in to a corner by accepting a grant. Ruskay explained that the fields would have to remain for public recreational use – but that the fields could be converted for baseball or football or other activities.

The GSCDD has budgeted $589,817 to operate the Parks & Recreation department this fiscal year, however it’s not known how much of that is a result of the Sherman Soccer Complex. It may be difficult to separate the shared costs such as staffing and maintenance to determine the exact cost of the soccer fields, but at some point the GSCDD will have to try.

GSCDD documents say 2,370 players signed up for league play in the past year – most or all with the Gateway Soccer Association. If a child signs up for both spring and fall soccer they would be counted twice in that number. Approximately 1,800 of the 2,370 sign-ups were children who live in Gateway.

The GSCDD expects $35,000 in soccer-related revenue for the current fiscal year.

While the GSCDD board has not made any decisions on the fate of the soccer fields, the pursuit of federal grant money will require the path forward to be declared as part of the filing. However, Ruskay said that even after the grant money was awarded the soccer fields could still be converted later. The board members appeared pleased to hear that.

Ruskay said that the grants will most likely be awarded in June 2015 and that Gateway is an excellent candidate in his opinion. As it turns out, Ruskay used to run the entire grant program in the state of Florida so he’s in a very good position to evaluate Gateway’s chances.

The board voted unanimously to authorize Ruskay to prepare the paperwork to apply for a 50% grant of the $84,000 cost to replace the soccer stadium lights. The plan would be to pursue up to an additional $158,000 in federal grants this year.

GSCDD stands for Gateway Services Community Development District..

 

Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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