Originally created 10/04/03

Parents want more space at Patriots Park



Frustrated soccer moms - and dads - are asking Columbia County officials for more park space to relieve overcrowding at existing facilities.

Coaches looking for practice areas at Patriots Park off Columbia Road stagger times later into the evening and sometimes take over outfield areas of the baseball diamonds. Parents showing up for the nightly games have given up on finding available parking.

"I don't even look for a slip. I just look for grass," said David Martinez of Grovetown, who has two daughters playing weekly soccer games at Patriot's Park. "Another park would be good."

About 80 youth soccer teams with 1,000 players use Patriots Park this year. The select soccer club, elite teams that play in tournaments, have added 10 teams in two years.

"We have a big demand for field space," said Phil Sines, the president of the Columbia County Patriots Soccer Club. He has two sons on the select teams. "Right now, there's just not enough space to get our practices in."

Columbia County's Director of Community and Leisure Services Barry Smith said relief is on the way, but parents will have to be patient until the county builds another facility off Blanchard Road.

"One of the first priorities at Blanchard Woods park is incorporate into the design capacity about six to eight more soccer fields, with parking capacity for about 600 more cars," Mr. Smith said.

The county is working on the designs for Blanchard Woods, a 150-acre park funded mostly by 1-cent sales tax collections. Mr. Smith said construction could start next summer.

"We read the citizenry loud and clear that they want more soccer fields," he said. "We're moving ahead as quick as we can with the funding we've got."

Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or vicky.eckenrode@augustachronicle.com.