Despite rumors, Shriners’ soccer fields not for sale
Michelle Stuckey - Nov 17, 2011
Local soccer players are very familiar with the large lot next to the Jerusalem Shrine Center in Destrehan that has been used for youth sports programs for more than 15 years.
Despite recent rumors circulating around the parish, the Jerusalem Shriners said they have no plans to sell the fields.
"We have no plans for either leasing or selling any portion of the soccer field," said John Williamson, with the Shriners. Williamson said that one man had walked in off the street in the past and asked about renting a small portion of the property that would have left two soccer fields still usable, but negotiations later fell through.
The fields, which were developed with help from the parish and the St. Charles Soccer Association, are used for recreation department and school district functions.
"A lot of work went into the site to make it usable for soccer…many loads of dirt were dumped by the recreation department to make the fields, lights were installed for evening practices and a rear fence was installed along the canal thanks to a community grant from DOW to keep the balls on the field," Roger Matthews, a former president of the St. Charles Soccer Association, said.
Parish soccer teams have been using the fields since 1995, according to Duane Foret, director of the Parks and Recreation Department.
Matthews, the father of two girls who played soccer in the parish for 11 years, said that local soccer players have already lost facilities at Coronado Park, J.B. Martin Middle and Harry Hurst Middle over the past few years due to construction.
If the lots were ever sold or built on, Matthews is concerned that there may not be another lot of vacant land on the East Bank that is large enough to create another soccer facility.
It takes about 2.5 acres to hold a single U18 soccer field. A field is 75 to 80 yards wide and 110 to 120 yards long, and then an additional 5-yard buffer zone goes around the entire field.
"There is no land left on the East Bank for any other soccer fields," Matthews said.
The lot is also important to residents of Ormond, who say they enjoy the green space provided by the fields.
"The Shriners’ soccer fields are a vital, integral component of the soccer program in St. Charles Parish," said Scott Rigby, Destrehan High School teacher and Ormond neighborhood resident. "They are also a huge facet of the Ormond neighborhood and Destrehan community. They provide a central location utilized by large numbers of people for recreation – either organized by the sports programs in the parish or casual gatherings of friends.
"These fields also provide attractive green space in our neighborhood that gives the heart of Ormond Boulevard a relaxed atmosphere."
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