Riverdale considers 6-field soccer project near Weber River Parkway

Friday , February 23, 2018 - 5:00 AM

RIVERDALE — A nonprofit sports development group and Riverdale officials are discussing a proposal to build six soccer fields on 40 acres of vacant municipal land south of the city offices.

The Utah Youth Soccer Association presented the concept to the mayor and city council Jan. 16, Mayor Norm Searle said. The council reached a consensus to ask the soccer group to draft a memorandum of understanding for later consideration.

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“They have this land right by the city office building and we were wondering what they wanted to do with it,” Michelle Wixom, the association’s legacy fields executive secretary, said Thursday. 

“We don’t have a whole lot planned yet,” she said. “We don’t want to do anything until everybody in the community is on board. These would be community fields. This is not some crazy takeover.”

The association would pay for the construction and maintenance, and the community could use the fields when they’re not booked by association teams and events, Wixom said.

“This area would be open to the public as green space and the city would not have to pay for that,” she said.

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“In theory, it has a lot of potential benefits,” City Administrator Rodger Worthen said of the concept. “As a city staff, we would be willing to support it. Of course, it’s up to the city council.”

The association’s legacy program is trying to expand the availability of soccer fields across the state. It helped in the development of the Ogden School District’s soccer complex on Monroe Boulevard, Wixom said, and sponsors the semipro Ogden City Soccer Club.

Youth soccer demand continues to build, especially among girls, Wixom said.

“I love that it’s growing,” she said. “I’m one of the biggest fanatics of women’s sports. The women’s (soccer) population every year grows.”

Several people have raised questions about the project in a Riverdale City Citizens Facebook group. Concerns were voiced about traffic, parking, added congestion on Riverdale Road and potential impact on tree stands and wetlands.

Asked about the criticism, Worthen said, “They want to undermine the city.”

Wixom said no engineering studies have been done.

“We want to make sure the city council and the community are on board with the idea before we spend a lot of time and effort and money on it,” she said.

The city would retain ownership of the land and the association would lease it, Wixom said.

Searle, in a Facebook post about the proposal, said the association has offered to work with the disc golf association to improve its adjacent course and is interested in developing and running a youth soccer program for the city.

“With the exception of the parking lot and pavilions, the entire area would have grass and walkways,” Searle said, adding that the pathways would extend to the Weber River Parkway Trail.

The mayor said the association also is interested in acquiring private land south of the city-owned tract for more soccer fields and perhaps a fish pond.

When that private land is developed, a new vehicle bridge would be needed to connect the area to River Park Drive near the 900 West roundabout. The city owns that right of way, he said.

The land the association wants to build on has been designated as a future park for years, council member Alan Arnold said on Facebook. The city spent park funds to acquire 20 acres south of Sam’s Club for the proposed park, he said.

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt and like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/SEMarkShenefelt. 

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