Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – It may be hard to imagine during the soggy depths of winter, but within months, soccer fans will be cavorting about the new futsal court behind the Arcata Community Center.
Approved a year ago, the $300,000 court is being financed by an anonymous donor who stipulated that there be no reservations required or fees charged for use of the facility. The idea is to encourage pick-up games involving players of all ages, and to discourage any one group from dominating the court.
At last week’s Arcata Parks & Rec Committee meeting, Kirk Cohune of Greenway Partners offered an update on planning and construction, with help from Paul Swenson of the Mad River Youth Soccer League (MRYSL).
The court measures 137 by 82 feet. With sidelines, a seating area and a warm-up area, the entire futsal fixture occupies close to 19,000 square feet.
It has been relocated from its originally projected location near the back fence on the Community Park’s south end to a location nearer the Community Center, for a number of reasons, including cost reduction.
“We wanted closer access to the Community Center to ensure people feel safe at night,” Cohune said. Also, a long concrete path would have bifurcated the grass playing fields. The new location is within what’s called the Appeal Jurisdiction Boundary of the Coastal Zone, which Cohune said will help minimize delay and deliberation.
The court’s surface must be cleverly engineered for durability on the spongy field. “This site is bad for something that you want to have structurally stable,” Cohune said. Thus, it will be padded and coated so that the inevitable cracks won’t compromise the playing surface, and will essentially “float” on the field surface. A “drainage gallery” will be installed alongside.
The court will sport a green and blue color scheme, with a gray border and stylized Earth-soccer ball emblem symbolizing the global nature of the sport. The court will be cleanable with light power washing
Adjacent to the court on the south end, behind a small fence, is a “kickback” area featuring a short wall, suitable for individual or multiplayer use. A ball-sized “mouse hole” at the base, and a hoop mounted along the top will invite improvised games and training possibilities. “There are lots of different ways to use that space,” Cohune said.
At the other end, near the Community Center, will be a mini-court for limbering up. Nearby are concrete benches, useful for changing one’s shoes and watching the action on the court.
During construction, a geo-textile mat will be installed to bear the weight of trucks and other equipment in an effort to minimize damage to the surrounding field.
The court won’t have nets in the goal areas, as they are costly and prone to vandalism. Small fences on each end will keep the ball from flying too far afield. A community ball basket will be attempted, but if the balls disappear in theft-plagued Arcata, that will be removed.
Programmable LED lighting standards will allow play up until the 11 p.m. closing time. Ornithologists and biologists have been consulted to minimize impacts on birds, bugs and bats. “Nobody we’ve talked to thinks that’s much of an issue,” Cohune said.
As an offset, lighting at other locations at the complex will be optimized to keep energy use at or below present levels.
With planning near-complete, construction could begin this June or July, with hopes that the court will be finished by December. Meanwhile, Greenway and the city will work with local soccer groups for feedback, to promote the project and to provide education as to appropriate use. With their help, art and signage will be developed. The city could also offer futsal programs through Arcata’s Recreation Division.