The Oliphant School property is emerging as a top option for now for a new mini soccer field. While Town officials agree the location isn't ideal long term, the site should let the project get up and running this fall.
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OLIPHANT SCHOOL PROPERTY EMERGES
AS TOP OPTION FOR NOW FOR MINI SOCCER FIELD
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (APRIL 12, 2022) – The former Oliphant School property is emerging as the top option for a new mini soccer field.
During a recent meeting in Town Hall, the Town Council heard the latest about the proposal, which would be funded entirely through private donations.
According to Open Space & Fields Committee Chairman Nicholas Coogan, part of the Oliphant site at 26 Oliphant Lane and the Pottsy Field parking lot at 648 West Main Road emerged as the most viable options after a review by the volunteer committee.
However, with plans to redevelop the 15-acre tract from 600-740 West Main Road — including the ball field complex — on the horizon, council members were hesitant to commit that property to the rapidly growing sport.
“They would like to get this in Town and started,” council Vice President Thomas Welch said. “There’s no cost to the Town, just providing a space.”
In early February, the plans for the new operation were first brought to the council. There, representatives for the Middletown Youth Soccer Club said the sport was helping get youngsters into soccer.
Different than “traditional” soccer, mini soccer is played on an 80 foot by 50 foot enclosed artificial turf field, complete with walls. The way the field is built, it’s moveable in about a week or two time and needs a flat surface to be built upon. A parking lot is considered ideal.
Organizers have said the fields are about the size of two full basketball courts. The lights that serve the field are powered by solar panels, so an electrical hookup is not necessary.
During his briefing to the council, Coogan said Albro Woods and the Tibbetts Farm sites — both on Mitchell’s Lane were considered, but didn’t meet the necessary specifications.
“Those two are the least desirable,” Coogan said of Albro and Tibbetts. “They’re still green. There are still trees growing there. The last thing (the) Open Space (& Fields Committee) wants to do is go clear land to put in anything.”
In response to a question from the council, the Town’s Wyatt Road soccer complex was also reviewed, but deemed too wet to meet the need for the mini field.
Coogan said the game — also known as futsal — uses a heavier ball than a traditional soccer ball and the game is geared towards younger players.
The game is also intended to teach incoming soccer players how to handle the ball quickly and effectively. If necessary, the field can be broken down and moved within a week or two.
“There were no other areas that Open Space came up with that met easily the needs that we saw,” Coogan said. “It can go on a hard surface that’s already paved.”
Welch said the new field could likely be in place in November and run through early April.
Its not a permanent, forever site. And they might say ‘no. I don’t want to move it twice. You can’t give me a third spot?
After hearing from the council the preference was to put the court at Oliphant for now, Coogan said he would reach out to the futsal representatives and get the process going. Town Solicitor Peter B. Regan said before anything would happen, an agreement, insurance and other details would be hammered out.
“I think it gives them a longer chance to be in one location rather than having to move,” council President Paul M. Rodrigues said.