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Soccer panel won't recommend site tonight at meeting

The mayor's soccer task force will present some of its findings tonight to the city Park Board, but the task force will not recommend a site for a proposed soccer complex.

The mayor's soccer task force will present some of its findings tonight to the city Park Board, but the task force will not recommend a site for a proposed soccer complex.

Task force chairman Jeff Smith, a member of the City Council and an ex officio member of the Park Board, said the task force will present its findings on what a soccer complex might cost, how large it should be, how it would impact the Park Board, how close it should be to the city, and how its usage could be maximized.

"We're going to give more information to them so that they're aware of the direction we're going," Smith said. "We're looking at all the options. That's the bottom line."

The Park Board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. today at the Mitchell Recreation Center. Smith declined to divulge any of the findings prior to the meeting, and he did not know whether the presentation would be open or closed to the public. He said the task force plans to give a similar presentation Monday to the City Council.

The task force was created July 17 by Mayor Lou Sebert in response to a debate over a proposed 10-field soccer complex. Local businessman Roger Musick offered to donate land for the complex in a horseshoe-shaped area formed by South Harmon Drive, in exchange for ownership of a public access point that abuts his lakeside home.

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Local soccer enthusiasts have rallied behind the proposal, saying the city needs more fields to accommodate its burgeoning soccer programs.

The cost to build the complex on Musick's land -- excluding the cost of roadwork -- has been estimated at $1.7 million to $1.9 million. Some say major and potentially costly improvements to Ohlman Street would have to be completed first to support the extra traffic that the complex would generate, while others say the city should accept Musick's offer and assess traffic needs later.

At the July 17 City Council meeting, some said the council should examine other potential sites for a soccer complex before accepting Musick's land-swap. Sebert created the task force with that suggestion in mind, and Smith said the group is seeking alternative sites.

After its upcoming presentations to the Park Board and the City Council, the task force plans to prepare two or three options to present to the council at its Sept. 5 meeting, Smith said. That will be one day before the Sept. 6 deadline Musick has set for the city's consideration of his land-swap proposal.

"The council will have to decide at that point if we want to take Roger's offer," Smith said, "or if we want to continue to look elsewhere."

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