May 24, 2013

Lakeshore Park aims to be regional sports hub

Upgrades include new field, lighting

Charles Oliver

— From college soccer matches to regional football tournaments to a new track and field program, the Dalton Parks and Recreation Department has big plans for the renovated field at Lakeshore Park.

“It will be our only full-size field. All of our other fields are 80 yards long,” said recreation department Director Steve Card, adding the new field replaces the existing soccer field. “Having a full-size field will allow us to host some larger football tournaments. It will obviously be the future home of the 7-on-7 (football) Championship. It’s also a regulation NCAA soccer field, so Dalton State College will be able to step on it on day one and play soccer.”

Dalton State College Athletics Director Derek Waugh said the school hopes to have its soccer program in place soon and Lakeshore Park will be its home field.

“We submitted a proposal to the Board of Regents to start hiring a soccer coach this year with play to begin in fall of 2014,” Waugh said. “While this was not immediately approved, I am confident we will have soccer up and running as soon as we receive approval. I cannot think of anything more logical than giving our abundant local soccer talent an option to continue their careers and education at the college level.”

The field will have the logos for both DSC and the Dalton Parks and Recreation Department.

Dalton City Council members voted Monday to approve a $254,675.89 contract with AstroTurf for a new artificial turf surface for the park’s soccer field. The council also voted 3-0 to approve the $64,900 purchase of a lighting system from Musco Sports Lighting of Oskaloosa, Iowa, and a $40,370 contract with Dalton’s Lawson Electric to install the lighting system.

“This will be a complete project. The main renovation, obviously, will be the turf. But we are also going to resurface the track. We are going to put college-spec lighting. We’ll have bleachers for up to 300. We’ll have a decorative fence,” said Card.

Dalton Public Works crews have already torn up the old field.

“We are three to four weeks away from finishing the basework and turning it over to AstroTurf,” said Card. “Our goal is to have this up and running by the first of September in time for our fall football and soccer programs.”

Card said that, because of the size of the field, two and possibly up to three youth games can be played on it at one time by playing crossways on the field.

“We also hope to use it to have a full track season. AstroTurf will be installing a long jump pit, and we have the track. We can use the field itself for the softball throw,” he said.

Card said that the track will also be lighted at night and open to the public for walking and running.

“The field that was here was approximately 12 years old and needed to be replaced. We had to address that. But when we started talking about replacing the field, we started talking to the college because we knew they were looking to start a soccer program,” Card said. “When we started to design this project and bid it out, we wanted to meet our needs. But we also wanted go ahead and see what the needs of Dalton State. It will meet our needs for soccer and football, and it will meet their needs.”

AstroTurf President Bryan Peeples said the turf will be one of the company’s latest products, which uses soybean oils to replace some of the petroleum typically used in the manufacture of synthetic turf.

“It’s an environmentally friendly product that was pioneered and is manufactured right here in Dalton,” he said.

In addition to soccer, Lakeshore Park will also host DSC’s tennis program starting next spring. Card said the recreation department is also expanding and renovating its cross country trail so DSC can hold meets there, too. But Waugh said plans call for the college’s team to compete solely on the road for its first season.