The operators of the Gateway Soccer Association and Gateway Flag Football League have been requested to send representatives to the GSCDD board meeting on November 19, 2015. The groups are going to be asked if they absolutely need night-time lighting at the Sherman Soccer Complex in order to run their youth sports programs.

It appears the Gateway Services Community Development District is having second thoughts about replacing the aging floodlights at the soccer fields. The main reason, of course, is the cost to the residents – expected to be between $400,000 and $500,000, spread out over a five year period.

Earlier this year there had been some hope that the district could get some federal grant money to help offset the costs, but the grant application was rejected due to an oversight by GSCDD staff. With the grant money no longer an option the Board of Supervisors are once again mulling over whether it’s wise to spend up to half a million dollars to upgrade the soccer field lights.

The idea of scrapping the lights had been brought up this summer by Supervisor Rod Senior, but at that time it was quickly swatted away by Chairman William Guy and the rest of the board. However, at the most recent board meeting on October 15, Senior proposed the idea of speaking with the youth sports operators to learn more about their needs, and the other Supervisors agreed to begin at least exploring the topic.

Without the floodlight upgrades, the best estimate I’ve seen about the cost to operate the Sherman Soccer Complex is about $185,000 per year. Meanwhile, the latest figures provided by the GSCDD state that the youth soccer and football programs are expected to pay $16,835 and $3,912 respectively for field usage this year.

Based on those figures it costs the district approximately $165,000 per year to operate the Sherman Soccer Complex, and that’s without putting in new floodlights. Adding in the floodlights will make it nearly $250,000 per year for the next five years.

At the November 19 district meeting, the GSA and GFFL will be expected to answer if the floodlights are crucial to them in order for their programs to be viable.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this article said the youth league reps were asked to show up on Nov 5, 2015 (that was the original plan discussed at the last GSCDD meeting). However, Tim Miller of the GFFL has advised us that they’ve changed the date and the leagues will appear at the following meeting on, Nov 19, 2015.

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

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