Partnership between county, PCYFL leads to new athletic fields

The Platte County Parks and Recreation Department continues to work on three all-purpose athletic fields at Platte Ridge Park, just north of Platte City. The Platte City Youth Football League will be the primary user of the facility, which could continue to expand and include amenities but will be available for football, rugby, lacrosse and soccer. If not for an extremely wet fall, the grass might’ve been covered by the recent snow.

Instead, the there’s a little more than three football fields worth of mud in the southern end of Platte Ridge Park. The timeline might be slightly delayed, but a partnership between Platte County Parks and Recreation and the Platte City Youth Football League (PCYFL) has a coveted sports facility coming to the area.

The three regulation football fields could be ready for use by the fall of 2016, but more likely, a spring of 2017 opening looks like the new target.

“We’re excited the project has come this far,” Platte County Parks and Recreation director Brian Nowotny said.

Earlier in 2015, the Platte County Commission approved the project at a cost of about $400,000, funded by the half-cent tax-payer approved parks tax.

The football fields were a part of the 2005 parks master plan, but the planning occurred during the past two years. The partnership with PCYFL — established in 2005 — allowed the project to move forward. The group will pay $4,000 annually for the first two to three years to help fund maintenance with that amount growing to $5,000.

The county would pick up the rest of the estimated $1,000 to $2,000 in maintenance, hopefully funded through field rentals and other usage of the facility. A turf facility, based on cost, was eliminated during the planning phase.

Nowotny doesn’t have concerns with PCYFL meeting its obligations, and league president John Hughes said fundraising efforts have already increased, including the establishment of a 5K run held this past fall.

“There’s definitely a lot of excitement for the fact we’re going to have a permanent facility for our kids to practice and play games at,” he said. “It’s a very ideal space for us.”

Currently, PCYFL fields 10 teams at various age levels, including both flag and tackle football.

The group already utilizes the soccer fields at Platte Ridge Park for flag football practices, and other teams use an empty lot across from Platte County R-3’s District Education Center off of Highway 92. In addition, games generally are scheduled around the school’s usage of its all-weather turf field.

During the past three to four years, PCYFL began looking for a better, more permanent solution.

Hughes said the ability to host more games, and potential large tournaments, is a benefit of the move, along with keeping its relationship open with the district. Nowotny also noted that the fields could be used for lacrosse and rugby or auxiliary soccer fields.

PCYFL is the primary user but will not be the only user.

“It fits perfectly with what we like to do. It’s another partnership where we are contributing resources to build the facility, and we have an outstanding, ready-to-go partner to come in and program that to get the kids playing on those fields as soon as they’re ready and help us take care of the maintenance.

“That’s the win-win we’re always looking for.”

Work on the new fields began this past spring with Hill Brothers Construction doing the excavation.

Eventually, the three fields will be terraced on separate levels. The parks department did the planning in house and identified the area as available space to accommodate a project of this size.

The only major impact of the work came with the rerouting of the cross country course the school uses. That will be reopened this coming fall and could benefit from the work being done.

Part of the proposed planning includes the future need for bleachers, expanded parking, concessions, a standalone restroom facility and possibly a playground. No funding currently exists, but Hughes said there is a priority and coming up with money for the purchase of goalposts and scoreboards, along with the electricity needed to run them.

The rest of the expansion should come with time to help create the desired facility.

“There’s not going to be a lot of amenities out there (right now),” Nowotny said. “But it’s going to have the basics so the fields can be used no later than 2017.”

With better weather, Nowotny said the goal was to get one grass seeding in this fall to potentially have it ready this summer. Instead, that will wait until the spring, which has pushed the project’s timeline back.

The three fields will cover the current need, but future expansion of youth football facilities could be needed. However, the area chosen for the project could not have handled more so alternate spots would have to be found.

A fourth field would have required large cost for retaining walls, storm drainage, etc.