Wednesday, September 22, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 29

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on September 9th, 2021, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 22, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 22, Issue 28

Santa Maria awaits state grant to move forward with proposed sports complex

By Malea Martin

Santa Maria needs a new sports complex to keep youth occupied and off the streets, and with recent county support, the city is one step closer to making it happen. 

The city’s Recreation and Parks Commission already approved the concept for a 19-acre sports complex located in the Blosser-Southwest Specific Plan, a project that includes four sports-sized fields, hard court areas, parking, a playground, and support facilities, according to an Aug. 3 council agenda report. But the much-needed facility comes with a hefty price tag: around $8 million.

The city can squeeze about $1 million out of its future park development fees and Measure U funds. Developers have to pay a fee when they develop new properties, and Recreation Services Manager Dennis Smitherman said the city anticipates “a large amount of new developments in that area where the sports complex would be, so when that occurs the developers would pay that fee.” The remaining city contribution would come from Measure U’s Quality of Life funds. 

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors also committed to supporting $1.5 million of the project. Santa Maria hopes to secure the remaining cost through a Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program grant, a product of the 2018 Proposition 68 Bond Act. Smitherman said that having the county’s commitment will bolster the city’s chances of securing the funding.

“We’re waiting patiently,” Smitherman said of the grant. “We went through the formal interview process with the state, and they’re deliberating now on the grant request. … They often get way more in requests than they have in funding.”

Smitherman said the city is confident that the grant was written in alignment with the state program’s goals. 

“We had a really good interview with them, and when the county and city had offered to provide some funding outside of the grant, it makes us even more competitive,” he added.

Originally, Santa Maria applied for the grant asking for $8 million, but was able to reduce its ask after getting the city and county funding commitments.

One big goal of the new complex would be to reduce youth crime rates by providing them with a space to recreate instead. The peak time for teen crime is the hours right after school gets out, Smitherman said. 

“Not only with sports, but any time we can get youth into programs with adults who are caring, the tendency for them to get into trouble drops significantly, whether they’re playing soccer or in an art program at a youth center or taking after school programs,” Smitherman said. 

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