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Soccer group addresses concerns


Soccer Association of Columbia officials attempted to quell concerns that a proposed seven-field soccer complex with a stadium and lights at Howard Community College would disrupt the surrounding community.

Michael Curry, the soccer association's publicity coordinator, spoke at a Hickory Ridge village board meeting last night. He addressed concerns about parking, traffic, litter, lighting and times of operations, saying the organization is willing to work out any problems that arise with nearby residents.

"We are your neighbors," Mr. Curry told about 50 people -- including a contingent of soccer association boosters -- who attended the meeting. "We not only want one of the best soccer facilities in this area of the country, we want one of the best-supported soccer facilities."

Howard Community College's Board of Trustees will make a final decision on the proposal, which is designed to improve the quality of facilities for the 3,800 youths in Soccer Association of Columbia leagues and strengthen Columbia's reputation as a national soccer hotbed, say proponents.

The proposal calls for redesigning a recreational area currently comprising three soccer fields and several softball diamonds to create seven high-quality soccer fields. The association wants to expand the bleachers around the track -- which would be relocated -- to accommodate as many as 3,000 spectators. Under the proposal, the stadium field would be regulation-sized and lighted.

Several residents who live across Hickory Ridge Road from the college expressed concern that lights would be disturbing. Sandra Moore said she was concerned that lighting would produce "daylight" conditions at night.

"That worries me," she said. "My property value goes down. The intensity from having those lights across the street bothers me."

Mr. Curry said lights from the stadium field would be almost fully blocked by an existing berm with trees.

The association would use the fields for games on weekends, with a few possible exceptions, Mr. Curry said. They would not be used for weekday practices.

Residents also expressed concern that cars would park along Hickory Ridge Road and that traffic on the road would increase. Mr. Curry said parking for games would be designated for the student parking lots off Little Patuxent Parkway.

The project would take about three years to complete and would cost an estimated $700,000 to $900,000. The soccer association would finance construction of the complex and maintenance.

Mr. Curry emphasized that the soccer association has a strong reputation for cleaning up trash it generates.

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