After years of doubt on where they may play in the coming years, the Yankton Youth Soccer Association (YYSA) is officially assured a home into the 22nd Century.
In front of an audience filled with parents and youth soccer players Monday, the Yankton City Commission voted 7-0 in favor of a memorandum of understanding that would lease the land YYSA’s fields currently reside on to the organization for 99 years.
Community & Economic Development Director Dave Mingo explained that the YYSA will be purchasing 45 acres of land from the 4030 Foundation that will then be transferred to the city for potential development in exchange for a 99-year lease on 33 acres of city-owned property to YYSA for a soccer complex. The 33 acres includes land that is already occupied by the group’s fields on what was once the campus of the Human Services Center (HSC). The YYSA will also have the option to take on five acres on the west side of Spruce St. which was part of 4030’s property.
The 4030 Foundation — founded by Dr. Luke Serck, Dr. Jesse Kampshoff and Dr. Ryan Garry, who all practice at the Yankton Medical Clinic — will retain ownership of and access to the old HSC barn.
Mingo said the deal reflects realities the city hadn’t envisioned a decade ago when it sought development on that land.
“It recognizes the changes in the retail marketplace,” Mingo said. “Ten years ago, we might’ve thought this area here was suitable for big-box retail/manufacturing. The markets have changed, and with shopping trends, that isn’t necessarily the case.”
The city will retain around 19 acres on the corner of Highway 81 and 31st St. for potential development that could complement the soccer complex.
Yankton Parks and Recreation Director Todd Larson said that alternatives had been proposed but never gained much traction.
“When the city bought the property, that need for soccer complex land rose to the top,” Larson said. “It sat there all of this time. There’s been multiple discussions about other lands and trying to do a site in multiple locations. Nobody was willing to jump on that plan. It took a little bit of patience and finally we’ve gotten through to this point where soccer can be all in one location.”
He added that youth soccer gives the city a great boost.
“Soccer’s numbers have been strong, both in the spring and the fall season,” he said. “They’ve had good tournament numbers. They’ve expanded into wintertime soccer — indoor soccer and utilizing indoor space and having a tournament in town. They’ve done a lot of great things for the city of Yankton. It took time and patience, but we’ve finally come around to taking one more thing off of our master plan list.”
Yankton City Manager Amy Leon said that persistence helped Monday night happen.
“This isn’t by coincidence; this is an intention,” Leon said. “An intention of leadership in our community saying, ‘We’re tired of No. We’re going to do things.’ I’m really pleased to hear sentiment among you that you’re interested in doing this.”
She added that the plan has been getting rave reviews from members of the public.
“I’ve heard no negativity about this whatsoever,” she said. “I’ve heard things like, ‘Yeah, it’s about time. This is what they should’ve done for a long time.’ I’ve heard, ‘Good for you.’ “I’ve heard, ‘What a great compromise.’ I’ve heard nothing negative from the public.”
YYSA President Wes Chambers said the organization has pored over plans with city officials for a long time and was happy with the resolution.
“We sat in a lot of rooms and hashed this over and came up with, what I think, for this community is probably the biggest win-win that we could come up with,” Chambers said. “What’s cool about this, if you think about it, is … with your blessing, we can go out in the community and we can say we’ve got a partnership — a partnership of a philanthropic organization like 4030, Soccer Association, the city. What a cool story to tell. That story is going to help us realize the complex of our dreams. For all these little kids out here, that’s their dream.”
He also took time to recognize the contribution of the 4030 Foundation, which had originally purchased the land to the west of the soccer complex in 2016 with the intention of building sports fields.
“This couldn’t have happened without the 4030 Foundation,” he said. “The 4030 Foundation — Luke, Jesse and Ryan — came to us with an idea of saying, ‘Hey, we had a dream for that 4030 land. We think, right now, we would like soccer to put their complex there.’ Our group — which would be Sondra (Jensen), Jeff Wolfgram and Cheri Loest and I — sat in a room and brainstormed and said, ‘What happens if we could flip that property to the city to retain and get a long-term lease on the property that we have?’”
Commissioners David Carda and Bridget Benson were both absent during Monday’s meeting.
In other business Monday, the commission:
• Authorized the issuance of bonds for the Huether Family Aquatics Center.
• Approved a contract with RACOM for work on the police radio system.
Follow @RobNielsenPandD on Twitter.