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More soccer fields
Six soccer fields were originally included in the early design of Ceres River Bluff Regional Park. Only five were developed because of the need for a large storm drainage basin. Because six weren't built, Ceres has not been able to host larger state cup tournaments.

The city is now engaged in planning for more soccer fields.

The Ceres City Council held a study session on Monday to look over three design concepts to add more fields and augment the 245-stall parking lot that already exists at the Hatch Road park.

With six fields, Ceres can compete with Ripon and Turlock for state cup tournaments.

"Building another field is tremendously good," said Lou Toste, past president of Ceres Youth Soccer Organization on Monday. He said attracting such events would bring in outsiders who would spend money in town.

"There is a big demand for soccer facilities," said City Engineer Toby Wells, who said a best scenario is to have new fields ready for the fall of 2013.

The council discussed the pros and cons of three designs, none of which entirely satisfied. Instead it chose pieces they liked from all three and asked city staff to further refine.

All three designs have the same basic ingredients only in different configurations.

Conceptual plan #1 calls for the addition of two new championship soccer fields, two Under 8 youth soccer fields, a "TOP" soccer field for handicapped play, park amenities in the existing playground, a traffic turn around for drop-off traffic, a new parking lot for 236 vehicles at the southeast quadrant of the park and overflow parking for 42 vehicles in times of high use. The plan also includes a two-million-gallon water tank at the northeast corner of the park that will be necessary when the city connects to a regional surface water project in the future.

Two other designs place the tank - estimated to be 25 feet high - near Hatch Road at the front of the park.

Plan #2 adds 225 more parking stalls and the TOP field as well as two U8 and three U6 soccer fields.

Both #1 and #2 keep a planned commercial zone between Hatch Road and existing soccer fields. However, Plan #3 does away with the future commercial development and uses the space for a 271-stall parking lot - along with a new 198-stall lot - while adding a TOP soccer field and three U8 and U6 soccer fields.

Toste stated his preference for Plan #3 for two reasons. He said placement of a new parking lot was best.

Wells also stated that the plan 3 provides for a bigger open spacing for best use for soccer fields.

Toste said his organization just opened a new five-week league for TOP - stands for The Outreach Program - that has attracted two disabled players. He anticipates it growing in size, and said Tracy has 60 participants.

"There is a tremendous movement in soccer in Ceres," he said.

Mayor Chris Vierra prompted a discussion of where to best place the tank - front or back. Councilman Mike Kline was the sole supporter of placing the water in the front of the park, saying the city could use it for advertising purposes. Vice Mayor Ken Lane, and Councilmen Eric Ingwerson and Bret Durossette prefer to see the 125-feet around two-million-gallon tank on the river bluff in the back. Wells added that cities have used creative paint jobs to help disguise tanks.

Lane liked Plan #3 but still wants the tank in the back.

"That's just a huge tank set out in front of this beautiful park," said Lane.

Wells said the council has the option to debate the finer points of the design but noted that the tank is not needed for "five or six years at best" when the regional surface water project goes on line.

Vierra said he is not a fan of the 90-degree turn which would be a "pinch point" where two lots egress at the lone access drive. The mayor said he likes a future second ingress/egress at Boothe Road that will be necessary if commercial uses develop on the city-owned property. Wells said in the meantime, a possible three-way stop at the "pinch point" may be a remedy.

Ingwerson said he liked Plan #1 with the exception of the "pinch point." But he said he could go for Plan #3 since Toste felt it was a more conducive design for soccer uses.

The final design will alleviate the lack of enough parking, said Chad Kennedy of O'Dell Engineering, the firm that came up with the drawings.

Recreation Coordinator Cambria Pollinger said the park "has become a year round facility. Every day these fields are being utilized so parking is extremely important. We get a lot of complaints about that."

Most regional facilities overflow into nearby residential areas but this is isolated, said Wells. He said some of the traffic issues could be alleviated by lengthening the time frame between games.

Wells said it could be years to develop since there is a vast amount of commercially zoned property in the Hatch Road area.