South Charlotte

Sportsplex eagerly awaited

People are already itching to get on the $2.4 million synthetic soccer fields at 521 District Park.

And the new asphalt roadway, leading from Ardrey Kell Road to the park entrance, draws folks trying to sneak an early peek at park upgrades.

“The word is out,” said Crystal Johnson, recreation specialist at the park site.

Be patient, Johnson says, since construction is still under way. Park officials will show off improvements at an open house Aug. 28, 6-8 p.m. The soccer fields should be finished by mid-September, with a grand opening ceremony for Oct. 15.

The changes are part of the plan to turn the 120-acre site at Ardrey Kell and Marvin roads into a “sportsplex” – open space with lighted fields and lots of parking to host competitive tournaments. This phase of construction is being paid for through a $4 million Mecklenburg County bond allocation from 2004. A restroom building at the soccer fields and parking lot will complete this phase; soccer-field lights will come later, according to Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation.

Mecklenburg County bought the property in 2002. The wooded expanse was formerly a residential campus first called Boys Town, and later Elon Homes for Children. Depending on future bond funding and planning, the park could include baseball/softball fields, outdoor basketball and volleyball areas, and playgrounds and walking trails. A Charlotte-Mecklenburg school, Elon Park Elementary, opens on the park site in August.

The changes add to the bustle along the Ardrey Kell Road corridor, with the Sports Connection entertainment center and Peak Fitness gym nearby, and the Cedar Walk retail and living center rising across the road.

Here's more on the 521 park:

The synthetic fields – which cost at least three times more to install than their natural counterparts – are part of a trend with county park and recreation. William R. Davie Park on Pineville-Matthews Road near The Arboretum was the first in the system to open a synthetic field in fall 2005. Then Revolution Park installed a synthetic football field. The 521 site is the latest to get these fields. Some athletic coordinators say that unlike natural fields, synthetic ones are cheaper to maintain and need less attention. Leagues pay fees to rent the fields.

Children at Elon Park Elementary will have direct access to the park and the recreation center through the new roadway and sidewalks. A new after-school program at the recreation center, run by the Morrison YMCA, starts in August, Johnson said.

The recreation center will get a new roof by September, Johnson said. Approximate cost is $92,000 and will be paid out of the park's capital improvement fund.

Johnson said other recent recreation center improvements include addition of a pool table, air hockey table and Xbox for the teen room; a meeting room with a flat-screen TV and Nintendo Wii; new flooring and an ice machine for the kitchen.

The disc golf course for the site is still in the works, according to John McClelland of park and rec's South Park District. A volunteer committee raising money to build the course needs about $1,000, McClelland said.

People are already itching to get on the $2.4 million synthetic soccer fields at 521 District Park.

And the new asphalt roadway, leading from Ardrey Kell Road to the park entrance, draws folks trying to sneak an early peek at park upgrades.

“The word is out,” said Crystal Johnson, recreation specialist at the park site.

Be patient, Johnson says, since construction is still under way. Park officials will show off improvements at an open house Aug. 28, 6-8 p.m. The soccer fields should be finished by mid-September, with a grand opening ceremony for Oct. 15.

The changes are part of the plan to turn the 120-acre site at Ardrey Kell and Marvin roads into a “sportsplex” – open space with lighted fields and lots of parking to host competitive tournaments. This phase of construction is being paid for through a $4 million Mecklenburg County bond allocation from 2004. A restroom building at the soccer fields and parking lot will complete this phase; soccer-field lights will come later, according to Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation.

Mecklenburg County bought the property in 2002. The wooded expanse was formerly a residential campus first called Boys Town, and later Elon Homes for Children. Depending on future bond funding and planning, the park could include baseball/softball fields, outdoor basketball and volleyball areas, and playgrounds and walking trails. A Charlotte-Mecklenburg school, Elon Park Elementary, opens on the park site in August.

The changes add to the bustle along the Ardrey Kell Road corridor, with the Sports Connection entertainment center and Peak Fitness gym nearby, and the Cedar Walk retail and living center rising across the road.

Here's more on the 521 park:

The synthetic fields – which cost at least three times more to install than their natural counterparts – are part of a trend with county park and recreation. William R. Davie Park on Pineville-Matthews Road near The Arboretum was the first in the system to open a synthetic field in fall 2005. Then Revolution Park installed a synthetic football field. The 521 site is the latest to get these fields. Some athletic coordinators say that unlike natural fields, synthetic ones are cheaper to maintain and need less attention. Leagues pay fees to rent the fields.

Children at Elon Park Elementary will have direct access to the park and the recreation center through the new roadway and sidewalks. A new after-school program at the recreation center, run by the Morrison YMCA, starts in August, Johnson said.

The recreation center will get a new roof by September, Johnson said. Approximate cost is $92,000 and will be paid out of the park's capital improvement fund.

Johnson said other recent recreation center improvements include addition of a pool table, air hockey table and Xbox for the teen room; a meeting room with a flat-screen TV and Nintendo Wii; new flooring and an ice machine for the kitchen.

The disc golf course for the site is still in the works, according to John McClelland of park and rec's South Park District. A volunteer committee raising money to build the course needs about $1,000, McClelland said.

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