Plans for establishing soccer field complex in Rusk progress

by Cristin Parker

The next step in establishing a youth soccer and baseball practice fields has been approved.

Rusk City Council members unanimously approved a lease agreement with the Rusk Youth Sports Association on Thursday, June 13. The Rusk City Council unanimously approved leasing property adjacent to the KOA campground for new sports fields during the council meeting held Thursday, March 14.

“The Association has done an excellent job managing the baseball complex,” City Manager Jim Dunaway said during the meeting.

The agreement stipulates the city shall allow the RYSA to use the property; provide water, sanitary sewer and garbage pickup at no charge; have final approval of field usage; and provide signage with general park rules.

“Right now our kids go to Jacksonville to play and practice (soccer),” RYSA President Jaleea Dowling said. “We’re planning on working with the Jacksonville Soccer Association so they can come here once or twice a month, too.”

Rusk resident Steve Goode approached the Council in February and proposed a plan to build the field, including three baseball practice fields and two soccer practice fields and a third full-length soccer field, on city property adjacent to the Rusk KOA campground.

‘There’s plenty of room for this type of facility, and still have space for the lawn mower races and the circus, with plenty of parking for all,” Goode said during the February meeting. “And we want to try to get this done in such a way that it doesn’t cost the city one dime, by using it’s greatest resource, the people of this community.”

Council members granted Goode permission during the February meeting to start laying the groundwork for that facility.

Goode said he wanted to research the project to see if community members would be interested in the plans, and would help raise an estimated $2,500 needed to install the fields.

He revisited the matter during the March council meeting and said he’d gotten pledges of nearly $750 – in the form of monetary pledges, donated time, equipment and volunteer work and other support, including regular field maintenance by the RYSA -- to start working on the fields.

Goode reported there’s about 370 area youths that play baseball in Rusk and suggested the lease agreement be made with the RYSA and Marcus Carter, who’s currently in the process of establishing a new Rusk youth soccer organization,

Future plans include a concession stand and restroom facilities, and a pavilion with a park area and irrigation and lighting systems.