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In this story Friday, Castlegate developer Wallace Phillips was misidentified.

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College Station sets ball in motion for soccer-field lighting

By SOMMER HAMILTON

Eagle Staff Writer

The College Station City Council directed city staff Thursday to start engineering and design work to light three Central Park soccer fields, with construction beginning as soon as 2005.

Design work is estimated at $20,000, a portion of the total $300,000 estimated cost for the lighting structures.

The go-ahead comes more than a month after council members postponed discussion on a $1 million proposal to light 10 fields: the three in Central Park, four currently in use at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex and three more at Veterans to be built by late 2007.

After hearing from members of the soccer community, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board this week trimmed its $1 million lighting request to $700,000 by agreeing to push for lighting the three future Veterans fields at a later time.

The presidents of the College Station Soccer Club, the Aggieland Soccer Club and the competitive adult Bryan-College Station Soccer League submitted a letter to the parks board that was shared during Thursday’s council workshop. In the letter, the soccer clubs — which represent 1,500 players — asked the council to expedite lighting of the three Central Park fields to accommodate evening practices.

Two soccer fields in Southwood Athletic Park and two at Veterans Park currently have lighting.

The council unanimously agreed to consider funding lights at the four existing Veterans fields and funding development of four College Station neighborhood parks — at a potential cost of $1.1 million — during the fiscal year 2005 budgeting process, which will begin this summer.

Aggieland Soccer Club President Stephen Hollas called the council’s decision “a step in the right direction.”

Hollas said his club currently practices on and pays to help maintain two soccer fields in Smith Ranch near the Indian Lakes residential development, owned by Bill Smith. The club recently paid to erect lights on donated wooden poles with homemade light cages and donated labor on one Smith Ranch field for about $17,000, Hollas said.

The quality and power of the lights is decidedly less than what the city is considering to light its fields, but Hollas said lighting was needed for the club’s nearly 400 children on 24 teams who practice weekday evenings year-round.

“ [The lights] work just fine,” he said. “For practice they’re great.”

During the hour-long discussion, Mayor Ron Silvia asked the parks board to consider making it policy that all new fields be constructed with lighting.

In other business, the council:

• Approved the rezoning of 70 acres along Earl Rudder Freeway South between the Shenandoah and Castlegate subdivisions to make room for Castlegate developer Wallace Mitchell’s planned 10-acre single-family home development. Mitchell hopes to construct 54 patio-style homes. Included in the rezoning is a commercial area along the frontage road and a retail district along Arrington Road.

• Rezoned 20 acres north of Rock Prairie Road West known as Williamsgate to single-family residential developer Robbie Robinson Ltd., which plans to build 82 homes in the area.

• Sommer Hamilton’s e-mail address is shamilton@theeagle.com.

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