About a dozen young soccer players shot balls into a small goal Tuesday afternoon to signify the official "kick-off" celebration of the construction of the new Los Gatos youth sports park to be located at 930 University Ave.
The fun activity was chosen instead of a traditional groundbreaking due to the fact that most of the land where the new $6 million, 2.7-acre Creekside Sport Park is located is now concrete.
"It's been a long time coming," said Los Gatos Mayor Joe Pirzynski who presided over the celebration attended by many soccer parents, town residents, government officials and recreation employees. "We're here for the kids. That's really what it comes down to."
Los Gatos Parks and Public Works Director Todd Capurso said the town bought the park's land, located north of and next to the Los Gatos Creek, in 2009. The project was first presented to the community at a Nov. 9, 2010 meeting, where the consensus, according to town officials, was that more soccer fields were needed.
The town has not awarded the park's design contract yet, according to Capurso, but the demolition contract and the bulldozers that began tearing down the old Verizon building on the site were from the Jos. J. Albanese, Inc. construction company.
Ed San Juan, vice president of operations for Los Gatos United Soccer League, stayed true to his word, delivering on a promise to contribute $100,000 to support the facility and pledging to continue support after it opens. With members of the LGUSL's board of directors, he presented Pirzynsksi with a giant cardboard check. The funds came from the league's membership, San Juan said.
"What a day," San Juan exclaimed. "This is something that we've wished for and dreamed about for a long, long time."
San Juan explained that the town has been short on fields for children to play sports for more than three decades. In 1999, with that in mind, LGUSL began putting money away to help build a sports park. "It's a beautiful setting for a field. It will be a big green space ... it will be surrounded by people having a great time watching their kids play."
The park's main attraction will be a 110-yards-long by about 70-yards-wide soccer low-maintenance turf field that will allow players to have four practices daily, with games on weekends. The facility will also be used by adults and for other sports such as lacrosse, San Juan said.
The facility's parking lot will be located on the property's north side and will accommodate more than 40 vehicles, but the town will enter into an agreement with an adjacent business to use its property for overflow parking. That extra parking lot will be located on the same side of the street where the park is located and will prevent children from crossing streets, which could be dangerous. A walkway will be built to facilitate access.
On the park's south side will be the concession stand and restrooms, accompanied by a climbing boulder for children to play in and an area where a band can perform such as those that play during the popular Music in the Park summer concert series, if desired.
The mayor said, hopefully within a year, the park will be ready for parents and townfolk to cheer the hundreds of young athletes who will use it.
"Youth sports bring a community together," Pirzynski noted.
Soccer mom Wendy Riggs, who serves on the LGUSL's board of directors, expressed delight with the park's construction start. "This is fabulous. It will be great to finally have a new field in the town to play soccer year round, even when it's raining."
Riggs said considering the 1,700 kids playing soccer every year in town and the 175 soccer teams, 75 of those teams playing year-round, the sports park is definitely needed.
Councilwoman Barbara Spector called the celebration one of the most exciting days since she was elected to the Council. "This is special. We don't build parks that often," she said.