MANATEE -- An agreement between the Manatee County school district and the county parks and recreation department to build a soccer field at Daughtrey Elementary School could benefit the financially ailing school district and community members who are requesting a shared recreational area.
The county commission approved the interlocal joint use agreement Tuesday morning. Plans for the shared soccer field will be sent to the school board for approval Monday.
"We hope we get this signed so we can put in the sod and get the soccer field up. Kudos for getting this done so quickly," Commissioner Robin DiSabatino said.
Since April, the parks and recreation department and school district staff have been working to open school recreation facilities to the public during non-school hours.
The county formed a joint facilities committee, including school board member Barbara Harvey and Commissioner Michael Gallen.
Gallen said eventually the joint-use agreement will apply to every school.
"It will apply to all the
county resources and the school resources," Gallen said. "Every school is different, so we still need to work out an arrangement with each school."
Committee members agreed the empty space on the Daughtrey Elementary campus would be an ideal place for a shared soccer field the community could use before and after school.
Residents around the elementary school at 515 63rd Ave. E,, Bradenton, have been using the softball outfield at nearby Pride Park.
"An improved soccer field is obviously great for kids and parents in the community," school board Chairwoman Karen Carpenter said.
Gallen said the soccer field will benefit the school district by enhancing its property.
"It's a win-win situation for the school board and the county," Gallen said. "We will be able to provide more park space by partnering with the school district, who provides the land. It's good to leverage the resources we share."
Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc. is donating Bermuda sod for the field, and the county will be responsible for the installation.
Commissioner Betsy Benac on Tuesday proposed sending Schroeder-Manatee Ranch a thank you letter.
County responsibilities include sod installation, soccer goals, a new pump and irrigation heads, fencing and adding trash cans. The cost will be $21,950 of $30,000 available from the Community Redevelopment Agency.
The field also will cost the county $11,195 annually from parks maintenance funds.
Gallen said the school district will not have to pay for installation of the field or maintenance.
As the field is on school district property, the county will have to comply with future school board modifications to the shared soccer field and parking area.
If the school board makes the shared area unusable within 10 years of the agreement, the school board will have to either provide similar facilities at an agreed-upon site or proportionally reimburse the county for the county's actual cost of the improvements to the soccer field and parking area.
According to the Joint Use Facilities Committee, it will take about six weeks to establish the Bermuda sod, and if they miss the "grow-in season" for the sod, they will not be able to open the field this year.
"It is urgent to start working before the summer rains," Gallen said. If approved, the weather will determine if the soccer field will open this year.
Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081