Construction may soon begin on a new Huntington Park soccer field, a project that is moving forward with the help of a half million-dollar contribution from the city of Vernon.
At Tuesday’s Vernon City Council meeting, Huntington Park City Manager René Bobadilla and Public Works Director James Enriquez updated the council on the progress being made on the soccer field project at Salt Lake Park, which is estimated to cost $874,000.
Vernon last year contributed $124,000 to fund the design phase of the soccer field and this past August agreed to donate another $500,000 to fund construction. A $250,000 grant from Los Angeles County will cover the remaining costs, according to Enriquez.
Vernon’s contribution is being made as part of the “good neighbor policy” it adopted in response to efforts to disincorporate the city, and a deal brokered with State Sen. Kevin De Leon that called for the city to improve its relations with neighboring cities in order to mitigate the “decades of noxious air released from Vernon.”
The city council in 2011 established what is now known as the Vernon Community Fund (VCF), which was supposed to set aside $5 million annually for 10 years; a funding goal the city has yet to achieve.
Vernon set aside $3.2 million in the 2012-2013 fiscal budget and $2 million during the 2013-2014 fiscal budget. Revenue from the fund is being used to finance the city’s contribution to the Huntington Park soccer field project.
“There’s a long history with that field and without your funding we couldn’t make that happen,” Bobadilla told the council.
The project calls for the installation of two half-size, artificial turf soccer fields to accommodate seven-on-seven adult games, similar to the recently completed soccer fields at Bell Garden’s Ford Park. In addition, after speaking with residents and community members who would use the field, the project plan was updated to include a full-size soccer field that can be placed over the two smaller fields for more traditional adult use.
“The community is really excited,” Enriquez said. The project is not only important to the city of Huntington Park but to the community Salt Lake Park is the largest park in the city and surrounding area. Despite the field’s current uneven condition, residents from Huntington Park and neighboring areas continue to play there, Enriquez told the council.
“People love playing soccer there,” he said. “We keep having trouble keeping up the natural turf because of the very intense use that it gets year round.”
To address the “heavy usage,” they hope to surround the soccer field with decomposed granite or artificial turf, if it fits into the budget.
Existing lighting will allow the field to continue to be used for night play.
Bobadilla told the council that construction was initially delayed to ensure sufficient outreach to the public, a “vital component” of the project.
The field is expected to open in May 2014, “in time for the fall soccer season,” Enriquez said.
Councilmember Michael A. Ibarra said he is glad the public had input in the final design.
The longtime Vernon resident said he and his family have all played soccer at Salt Lake Park.
“I know a lot of people and soccer is a big item,” he said. “I’m happy that the city of Vernon was able to help.”