Grant money paves way for park growth
Lauren Branas, Hartselle Enquirer
Soccer players in Hartselle may soon have another place to play.
Hartselle was recently granted money from the National Park Service to help purchase the remaining 18 acres of the 39 acres needed to build a soccer field next to John Sparkman Park.
Hartselle purchased the first part of the land last year. The entire 39 acres was owned by the same person.
The $81,250 grant equals 50 percent of the funds needed and requires the city to put up the same amount as a match.
Mayor Cliff Knight expects the new facility to be under construction within the next six months.
Only about 10 acres are needed to house the two regulation sized soccer fields and four smaller ones. The remaining acreage is for future expansion.
"As Hartselle has grown, there has been a need for recreational facilities. This is another thing to build for our future," Knight said.
The need for soccer fields has been a long time coming. Teams have had to utilize the old Burleson Elementary School playground, softball and football fields and other areas not suited for the game Knight said.
"It really is a handicap to use temporary fields," Knight said.
Knight also said that the new acquisition would enable Hartselle to extend the existing walking trail at Sparkman Park. It will be extended to one mile and have lights for added safety. Other parts of the land will be left wooded and used for general use, like picnics.
Frank Miller, director of parks and recreation for Hartselle, said the first phase is complete but the second phase that involves the grant is not yet closed.
"The city cannot move on to the actual development until phase two is complete," Miller said.
Miller said the city might look into purchasing another small piece of property equaling about an acre and a quarter with a house.
"It would be easier because Hartselle would own the right of way and have to put in less road," Miller said.
He also explained the inhabitants of the house might be bothered by lights and noise from a soccer field nearby.
Miller said the grant approval process has gone faster than expected.
"It normally takes about a year for each phase," Miller said.
The next step, or phase three, is up to the city council to determine. Some options are buying the extra acre with the house, or leveling the site.
When Hartselle is ready to begin developing the site, the city will hire an architect to come up with a development plan.
Morgan County also received federal grant money to further develop Charles Sparkman Park. The grant of $40,440 will be used to build football, soccer and side fields, fence the area, put in a sprinkler system, stadium seating and goalposts District 2 Commissioner John Glasscock said. The commission will begin taking bids for the job soon.
"I'm excited. We will have a football field for the smaller kids to play and practice on. Everybody will have an opportunity to play," Glasscock said.