April 22, 2024

Soccer mini-pitch project is drawing ‘really good’ feedback, says council member

Potential recreational activity has not yet been put on an official city council agenda

Brett Lundberg, the assistant soccer coach for Newton schools, said he and other soccer enthusiasts want to fully fund the construction of a mini-pitch at Maytag Park, so long as the city council reserves the basketball court to use as the base.

There was no action at last week’s city council meeting to reserve and repurpose the basketball courts at Maytag Park into a proposed community-backed soccer mini-pitch, but council member Randy Ervin said he received positive input from citizens and that it would be a “great project” for Newton.

“We’ve had some really good feedback on the mini-pitch opportunities at Maytag Park. Some in favor. Some concerns. So I think we’re pursuing what the options are, but what a great project for the city,” Ervin said. “It’s something to be excited about and something that can get out to people that’s positive.”

Ervin shared this update at the end of the Feb. 19 city council meeting, during the council comment portion. The soccer mini-pitch project was proposed by local soccer coach and business owner Brett Lundberg, who first introduced the project to the city’s park board to much encouragement.

Lunderg later pitched the idea to the Newton City Council, saying he and other soccer enthusiasts want to fully fund the project. While a hard estimate was unclear, it is thought that a mini-pitch would cost upward of $150,000 to construct. Using the basketball court concrete would help lower costs.

Apart from paying electricity and regular maintenance, the mini-pitch has minimal ongoing costs. Lundberg was accompanied by representatives from a soccer-based nonprofit called Kick It Forward and a company called Musco Sports Lighting, which have helped install more than 30 mini-pitches in Iowa.

“We’ve had a lot of success with it … We’ve had a lot fun, and people seem to be responding positively to it,” Ben Brackett of Kick It Forward said. “We’re just here to support. We kind of act as, more or less, the developer connecting the contractor, connecting the people, work on the fundraising side.”

In order to move forward with fundraising and applying for grants, Lundberg and his group of soccer enthusiasts need permission from the city council.

The splash pad park was another community-backed project that received city support. Volunteers leading the project convinced the council to reserve the land and then raised $417,000 in donations. The City of Newton would later commit a share of the construction costs, but it did not exceed the donations raised.

Aside from Ervin’s comments about the proposed mini-pitch project, he also hinted a nonprofit was working on a “large project” that would approach the city in the future. He also said a group of people in Newton are working together to provide some “holiday entertainment,” though he never specified what holiday.

“I guess the reason I say this is this could be a great year,” Ervin said. “Let’s get some people excited about some investment in the city. Let’s start making our name. Let’s see the traffic we’re getting from NASCAR and Indy and other things as well. Let’s get this town moving.”

Newton Mayor Evelyn George said, “You have our curiosity.”

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.