It may not look or feel it, but Spring really is just right around the corner. And with it comes soccer season.
But the question on most Glenwood futbol fans’ minds isn’t when the soccer season will begin. It’s where will the season begin.
After playing on makeshift fields around town, at the Glenwood Resource Center and in out-of-town tournaments for the last three seasons, the Glenwood Youth Soccer Program plans to play this season on the city's 11-field, 18-acre soccer complex just north of Glenwood Community High School.
There's just one thing standing in the way: Glenwood doesn't technically own that soccer complex right now.
Since construction of the new Glenwood Community High School commenced more than three years ago, Glenwood youth soccer has been in a sort of home-field limbo. The former city complex is now occupied by the high school. The 18 acres that would be the city's new fields to the north of the high school are graded, seeded and seemingly ready for games but sit vacant and have for over a year as the city and the school district work out the details of the property hand-off outlined in the 28-E Agreement they both signed.
Troy Weilage, president of the youth soccer club, said the City of Glenwood assured the club the fields will be ready this year, but when exactly kids can actually get on the fields remains a question. The spring season is scheduled to kick off in early April.
“They seem pretty confident we'll be ready to go in April,” said Weilage, a father of four who has been involved in the Glenwood program for a decade.
Dave Greenwood, facilities director for the Glenwood schools, said the fields, in his opinion, are ready for the city and have been since last year.
“Our goal is to have it turned over before the new (Glenwood) superintendent comes on,” said Greenwood. The GSD plans to have its new superintendent in place by April 15. “We hope to have this all done this spring. The fields are absolutely ready.”
Well, not quite, said Perry Cook, the city's public works director. Cook said the district still has to clear up some drainage issues on the fields and some work along Keg Creek that runs along the west side before the city is willing to accept the fields.
“I don't think there’s a lot of things left. Most of it is grading and drainage issues,” Cook said.
Cook said a majority of the 18 fields “should be ready to go” this spring but the process of accepting the property from the district is still up in the air. Cook said he worked in conjunction with Greenwood's crews last year to seed and fertilize the fields in anticipation of them being ready this Spring.
Greenwood met with Cook two weeks ago and another meeting is being planned with Mayor Kim Clark to discuss the transfer of the property. Greenwood is adamant the fields were ready last year when the city declined to take over the fields and he's certain they are more than ready this year. He chalks up the delay to a “difference of opinion” between himself and former Mayor Dyle Downing.
“He just felt that the fields weren’t adequate and I said many times that they are better than any other field the city owns so I couldn’t understand why they weren’t adequate,” he said.
Regardless of the contractual red tape, Cook does see the fields as being ready for play this spring, weather pending.
“I think the fields will be ready (this Spring) but I think there’s going to be a delay mainly because of the weather,” Cook said.
So what happens if the city, once again, declines to take over the fields this Spring?
“That’s a really good question,” said Greenwood. “We’re ready to release them and we feel they’re adequate and we’re going to work towards that. If there’s an issue we’re going to come to some middle ground we can both accept and move forward.”
Games are already being scheduled for the fields this year in anticipation of the hand off. Weilage thinks the new fields, when ready, will be a nice addition to Glenwood youth soccer.
“It’s going to be much nicer to have everything centrally located so parents don’t have to run their kids all over town to watch their kids play,” he said.
Weilage hopes both parties can come to agreement for the sake of the more than 300 youth soccer players that play in the league each year.
“Kids still want to play and most parents will do what they can to let the kids play and have fun,” he said.
He’s hoping the city and the school district feel the same way.
“The kids are definitely ready to get out there.”