Club wants to turn Bushnell into ‘destination’
By Jennifer Eisenbart
For as long as the Burlington Youth Soccer Club has been in existence – 21 years – current president Sandy Cowan has known the facilities at Bushnell Park needed an upgrade.
Now, after close to two years of work among representatives from the club, Burlington High School, the City of Burlington, Kiwanis Soccer and Racine County, that work could soon begin.
“We want Bushnell Park to be a west-end destination,” Cowan said. “We feel that, with these improvements, we’ll be able to bring tournaments to town, we can bring economic growth to town.
Cowan estimates that there are more than 700 players involved in the sport of soccer in Burlington, including Kiwanis, BYSC and the high school programs.
With that in mind, Cowan knows work needs to be done to not only rehabilitate the current fields at Bushnell, but also to make them accessible for various age groups and provide adequate parking.
“We’re not going to set up permanent fields,” Cowan said. “We need to lay the fields out. We need to grass the place and get it nice and flat so we can put these green spaces in use.”
Current plans call for 10 areas designated as possible fields with various configurations. That includes the primary field near the entrance of the park, which was renovated this fall and a fence installed.
That work allowed BHS to designate it as a playoff field if it were assigned a WIAA postseason contest.
From there, though, there are another nine possible fields – or playing surfaces – that could be addressed in as many as seven different phases.
The first phase would install a small field behind the current main field, and then a large field in the back corner of the park.
Phase two would create a long road – which would include game-day access from Chapel Terrace – and the next phases would work in the rest of the various playing surfaces.
Cowan said the various organizations are also trying to find out if the 11th field – which is currently the baseball diamond across the road – is currently being used by anyone.
“Is it being used? How much is it being used? Who’s using it?” Cowan said of the questions being asked.
What Cowan would like to see done, if all the work is completed, is rotate the fields, allowing down time and a chance for all the grass on the fields to stay healthy.
“The fields will be rotated constantly,” Cowan said.
Other work – like expanding the parking from the current 130 spaces to 354, and a renovation on the existing bathroom/concession stand area – is also being considered.
But right now, the first phase is hopefully on track to be started next spring.
That phase would cost roughly $110,000 to complete, and the rest could come to a total estimated at about $1 million.
“That’s all rough estimates,” said Cowan, who also noted that the various groups that use the fields are all working together to find out who can fund what.
Cowan said he also hopes that donations will help bring the project to fruition. BYSC has brought on a project manager to oversee fundraising and grant writing, and is making a line item in its budget to address the upcoming costs.
“This is huge,” said Cowan, who added that he would like to see a five-year plan to complete all the work, but doesn’t know if that is a realistic time frame.