LINCOLN – Work has begun on a new soccer complex at Manville Park.
The smaller of the park’s two baseball diamonds will be transformed into an U16 soccer field that can accommodate other sports such as field hockey and lacrosse, depending on demand.
Taxpayers agreed to invest up to $700,000 in the project at last year’s Financial Town Meeting, but the final bid for the work fell short of expectations at $588,530.
The tender, which includes the new pitch, goals, storage units and players’ benches, has been awarded to RAD Sports.
By early April, the baseball field had been removed and crews had begun leveling the playing field.
City Engineer Leslie Quish said they are currently surveying an area of cornice that will need to be removed between the park’s covered pavilion and the grounds.
The current project schedule calls for seeding the field in October.
The field will be maintained by RAD for a full year after being seeded so that the grass is established before use. Quish said she doesn’t expect the land to be ready for use until spring 2023.
“Field space is very limited in Lincoln right now,” she said, and there has been a growing demand for additional football fields. “The city really needs this space on the pitch.”
Lincoln Youth Soccer Association president Mark Donfrancesco agreed: “I think the whole city is running out of space. All youth programs need more space and the fields have not been updated. As youth sports develop, nothing is really allocated to multi-purpose courts. We are the biggest youth organization in town and we have no land.
The organization currently uses the Lime Acres Park outfield and a field at Lincoln Middle School.
Donfancesco said LYSA hopes to expand into other sports and that multi-purpose grounds like Manville’s will make that possible.
Football is still growing in popularity, he said. The program had about 675 participants before COVID and 350 last fall.
Ideally, he said Lincoln would have a five-year plan for grounds maintenance at all of the city’s sports fields.
“We need to expand the areas made in the 60s and 70s to meet the needs of young people today,” he said. “I’m not sure when the little dirt field in Manville Park was last updated other than some basic maintenance.”
He said he looks forward to the completion of the land.