Alliance launches football field project


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ALLIANCE A piece of barren land is being converted into a sports complex where soccer balls will be thrown.

City administrators are using city workers to grade the land on the north side of block 600 to 900 West Ely Street west of Rockhill Avenue.

“Over the next two weeks we hope that we will have completed our sowing and our final grading,” said Michael Dreger, director of the city’s security service.

The plan is to hand over the soccer field complex to the Alliance’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Public Lands. It is expected that the Alliance Community Soccer Club will use the complex.

“It’s a lot of us who work with club soccer to get it where they want it to be,” said Dreger.

The city uses land temporarily leased from Jim Wallace Land Co. of Sagamore Hills. The land will eventually become the city’s property, Dreger said.

“It will be this year,” he said. “Our lease allows us to do these things.

Jim Wallace Land Co. purchased the former property from T&W Forge (Transue & Williams), which included a factory in the 900 block of W. Ely Street. This factory, which was in front of the place where the work in progress is taking place, was razed.

The land where the factory was located was donated to the city. And the city authorities also intend to expand the football field complex there.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t pass three years before it was built,” Dreger said. “This is the first year.”

In the middle of the leveling site is a small cinder block structure.

“It will be a combination of concession stand and washroom,” said Bob Ritchie, Alliance Community Soccer Club board member. “I believe it was a sewage pumping station.”

Harry Paidas, a board member of the Alliance of Park Commissioners, said the project was still in its infancy.

“For example, I didn’t even see any drawings,” he said. “We didn’t sit down and define the location of the football fields. At present, it is really not a park. It is that of the city.

Alliance football club needs more space

There is an active soccer program in the Alliance region.

“We probably have about 800 kids going through the program in a year,” said Brian Simeone, president of the Alliance Community Soccer Club. “It will be our future home. Right now our home is in Butler-Rodman Park. We are moving beyond that. We just need more space.

Establishing football pitches on the south side of West Ely, where the T&W Forge factory once stood, will involve the removal of what remains of the factory floor.

“We have the equipment to take this off,” Dreger said. “It’s just concrete. It is not particularly difficult. You just hammer it into pieces. Children are not going to play on concrete. We’re going to break the concrete and put earth in it.

Parts of the factory foundation remain and stand up like a parapet wall overlooking West Ely. Simeone said the plan is to resurface the foundation’s brick veneer.

“We intend to keep that wall and keep that note,” Dreger said.

Although there are soccer fields in various locations around the city, this new complex could serve to consolidate sports activities into one location. In addition, there is hope to host football tournaments.

“As word has spread about this, we have received inquiries about hosting football tournaments here,” Ritchie said.

Having access to a large dormant lot could have made it tempting to seek residential or commercial developers to create new housing or retail outlets. But Dreger said research suggests it’s not likely.

“We watched it,” he said. “But I can tell you that was not going to happen in the next 20 years. Nobody is going to build anything there.

Contact Malcolm at 330-580-8305

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Bob Ritchie, Director of Travel, and Brian Simeone, President of the Alliance Community Soccer Club, stand in a field on West Ely St. where athletes will play from next fall.  The first phase of the project foresees nine fields on the north side of the road.

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