City breaks ground on future sports complex

City Councilmen and others responsible for making Gilroy’s

Gilroy
– An overcast sky did not dampen the spirits of a few dozen city
officials, developers, and local citizens who gathered in an empty
field Wednesday morning to break ground on a city sports park – a
project 15 years in the making.
Gilroy – An overcast sky did not dampen the spirits of a few dozen city officials, developers, and local citizens who gathered in an empty field Wednesday morning to break ground on a city sports park – a project 15 years in the making.

Construction of the $10.7 million facility, off Monterey Road across from the Hilton Garden Inn, officially kicked off Wednesday, although workers have spent several weeks clearing and grading the fields, according to officials.

The first of nine phases of the project is expected to last through July 2006 and will include the installation of three baseball diamonds, a soccer/football field, and playground areas.

“This project, out of the ones we’ve done over the years, I feel best about,” said City Administrator Jay Baksa, just before a group of city staff and officials each turned over a symbolic first patch of dirt.

Baksa reminded the crowd about the long road the project has traveled since the early ’90s, when the idea for a sports park first emerged after the Gilroy Little League began looking for field space.

Since that time, the sports park has encountered a number of obstacles, with the greatest delay coming over land negotiations – a process that stretched out more than three years, according to Baksa.

“On many occasions the project manager said ‘This project is dead, Jay. This project is dead,’ ” Baksa recalled. “But it wasn’t.”

The remainder of the project, estimated to cost more than $23 million for all phases, will take place over a number of years as funds become available, and will ultimately bring additional ball fields, concession stands, and, improvements to the frontage road along Monterey Road, according to the city’s master plan for the park. The project lies at the foot of the Uvas Creek corridor and includes plans to tie in with the city’s trail and bike system, another major planning effort by the city.

Mayor Al Pinheiro said the sports park represents the fulfillment of a vision started many years ago.

“Vision is what gets you to some place in the future,” he said. “There had to be vision in past [City] Councils to get people to where they are now.”

He pointed to the city’s future arts center, slated for completion in the downtown area by 2008, as “another addition to the quality of life in Gilroy. This is just the beginning.”

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