Senator Gwen Margolis Field to receive much needed reinforcementSenator Gwen Margolis field has gained undeniable appeal and is well attended by residents and visitors alike. The daily attendance numbers are staggering. But how did it come to this? Less than two decades before, Senator Gwen Margolis field and its nearby surroundings was nothing more than an empty lot. Not much to look at. Certainly no place to visit. In the late 90’s, the City acquired a FRDAP (Florida Recreation Development and Assistance Program) grant to renovate and create open space for families and youth to enjoy in leisure or recreational programs. The field transitioned into a park; and in the years since has been fitted with fencing, landscaping, walking path, playground and restrooms. A few years ago, the field was renovated once again. The natural grass was replaced by more efficient and aesthetically pleasing synthetic turf. Field lights were installed for better coverage during sunset. The park was even outfitted with WiFi. All these upgrades were introduced to get people into the parks. To say these renovations were a success is an understatement.
What is the issue? As a City focused on parks within walking distance for all residents, it brings us great pride and joy to see our parks being shared by all. However there are some concerns. The most glaring is the amount of adults and youth that are haphazardly kicking soccer balls inside and outside the park. It is not uncommon to see soccer balls travel beyond the fences, into oncoming traffic, at parked cars or directly within the vicinity of patrons.
Equally concerning, is the amount of youth that run into the streets to retrieve their errant soccer balls. Obviously this creates a few unsafe scenarios for both them and unsuspecting drivers within the area.
What is the solution? The safety of park users is our number one priority. To address the issue of errantly kicked soccer balls, the City has secured a contract to install a 20’ high ball stop system. The ball stop system is a netted ball structure that will span the length of the field.
The expanded nets will rebound balls kicked, thus keeping them safely on the field of play. Look for construction of the ball stop system to be completed by Halloween weekend 2015.
Can the numbers of users be reduced for the benefit of residents? Restrictions on the number of nonresidents or visitors, although a policy practiced by many municipalities, is something the City cannot pursue as stipulated by the grant which was used to develop the field. However residents are encouraged to take advantage of greatly discounted field rental rates which provides them exclusive rights for a portion of the field for the duration of the field rental permit.
Please be patient with us while Senator Gwen Margolis field is under renovation to install the ball stop system for the benefit of all. For more information about city parks, field rentals, athletic programs and services, call 305-792-1706 or visit www.sibfl.net/athletics.