Groundbreaking marks start of new Parkrose soccer complex

See where this top-notch facility will be constructed this summer, and find out who’s behind the effort to bring these playing fields to outer East Portland …

Parkrose School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Fischer Gray, Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Emily Hicks with Commissioner Fish’s office, and Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish chat before the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Regional Soccer Facility at Parkrose High School.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Outer East Portland folks who love the game are really going to enjoy the new “Regional Soccer Center” now being built in Parkrose. The regulation-size field, and two practice fields, will be built just east of Parkrose High School’s “other football” complex – so disclosed at the June 20 groundbreaking.

> To see how this project got off the ground, see our story, “Outer East Portland ‘Regional Soccer Center’ gets a boost from local team owner”: CLICK HERE.

“I’ve called it our ‘bird sanctuary’ from time to time,” quipped Parkrose School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Fischer Gray, before grabbing a gold shovel and hard hat. “It’s a very large area of underused land. Not only for the kids of Parkrose schools, but also for all the kids and adults in East Portland who are bereft of soccer fields here.”

Parkrose School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Fischer Gray says she can hardly wait for construction to begin.

Gray recalled how, on May 28 of last year, Merritt Paulson, the owner of the Portland Timber soccer team, visited the school and presented a $50,000 check. “The City of Portland has dedicated $200,000 to help Parkrose School District build these soccer fields, and the school district has dedicated $100,000 to the project. This $350,000 project is going to be beautiful, and we’re ready to get started.”

We asked why turning an empty field of grass into a soccer complex costs $350,000.

“It’s actually a fairly complicated project,” Gray responded. “First, they’ll excavate and level the fields. They, they’ll put in a drainage and irrigation, before they bring in topsoil on which they’ll plant the grass.”

From an educator’s standpoint, having additional sports facilities close at hand is a real plus, Gray observed. “In sports, kids learn discipline and team play – it helps them in everything that they do. And, it’s a great way to gather people together; athletics helps build a ‘sense community’ for area residents.”

Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish explains that it was Superintendent Gray’s diligence that moved this project forward.

Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees Portland Parks & Recreation, arrived for the ceremony, and said he was excited to see the plan come together.

“Our vision is that there will be quality ball fields in every part of the City,” Fish told us. “[Portland City Commissioner] Amanda Fritz and I are here today are to tell people we care just as much about Parkrose as we do about the community surrounding Roosevelt High.”

With what Fish characterized as a “tough budget cycle” for the City Council, it wasn’t easy to find $200,000, to be paid over two years, to “help Parkrose achieve their ‘field of dreams’. The secret is, their superintendent, Dr. Gray, is the most tireless and hard-working school district superintendent in our whole community; she’s a hard woman to say ‘no’ to.”

“It’s about equity,” says Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

Having put kids through public schools herself was one reason to support the project, Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz said. “My kids were very much into sports; it’s one of the things that helped keep them engaged and feeling good about their school.”

Fritz added, “It’s also about equity, and providing services in parts of the city that don’t have them. It’s about community, and using soccer and athletics as a way to bring community members together.”

Parkrose Broncos soccer coach Damian Califf says that both students and community members will enjoy the new Regional Soccer Facility.

It’s no surprise that Parkrose Broncos soccer coach Damian Califf was enthusiastic about the new soccer complex. “I grew up here. And, I’ve been coaching at the high school for 11 years, and being involved in the youth programs here. It’s going to bring in what is really needed for our community.”

Building the facility is expected to take about three months, Corey Lohman, VP of Emerick Construction, said.

Breaking ground for the Regional Soccer Facility are (from left): Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, Dan Hess architect with DOWA, Corey Lohman, VP of Emerick Construction, Parkrose School District Board President Ed Grassel, Parkrose High School Principal Ana  Gonzalez, PHS soccer coach Damian Califf, and Parkrose School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Fischer Gray.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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