Goalie Chris Beck, 10, prepares to block a shot by teammate Matthew Downing, 10, during warm-ups Saturday on French Field. Nearly 500 CYSS soccer players attended the grand opening of the youth recreation complex.

FORT BENNING, Ga. - Hundreds turned out for the grand opening of the youth recreation complex and new dog park on post Saturday.

"When we first envisioned this recreation complex improving this area five or six years ago, our vision was a community park," said Al Gelineau, director of the post's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. "This has been a real labor of love for us."

The complex houses a concession stand, 130-car parking lot, two covered pavilions, restrooms and irrigated soccer fields. Alongside the complex sits a five-acre dog park, a Boundless Playground and a mile-long walking trail.

"This is all linked to the Army Family Covenant - this is our commitment to Soldiers and families to give them the best quality of life we can because they sacrifice so much for us and our country," Gelineau said.

In the future, the handicap-accessible playground will expand to include outdoor fitness equipment for adults and a second parking lot will be added to accommodate the overflow during youth soccer games, he said.

An irrigation system was installed beneath Blue Field to provide 17 new regulation soccer fields in the fall. Currently, Child, Youth & School Services youth soccer teams use French Field.

Dorrie Wagner, CYSS sports specialist, said once the grass on Blue Field is ready, the two fields will be flip-flopped so work can begin on French Field, which will house football fields and more soccer fields.
Wagner said the soccer fields are needed since soccer is the most popular sport in CYSS.

"This year, we have just under 500 kids participating in soccer and with 42 teams we were getting cramped for space," Wagner said. "The more fields we have, the more kids that can participate."

Hannah Weinburgh, 10, has played soccer with CYSS for two years.

"I like to play soccer because I can get out, have fun and meet new friends," said Weinburgh, whose team, The Crush, sported orange jerseys at the grand opening as they prepared for a soccer game. "I like the new complex, especially the restrooms, because now we don't have to use the Porta-Potties."

Gelineau said there is work still to be done. During the summer, Blue Field will be leveled and the grass will be treated to get the surface ready for the fall soccer season. The playground will be complete once rubber concrete is poured and mulch is added.

"This is a tremendous project," Gelineau said. "I think it really embodies the essence of the Army Family Covenant and is going to make Fort Benning just that much more of a special place to live and work."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16