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Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 9:44 pm | Fair 55º


Synthetic Turf Takes the Field at Girsh Park

Grass is no longer greener thanks to the $1.25 million artificial soccer surface that just extended the field of play.

For Pat O'Malley, the dedication of Girsh Park's new Girsh-Hochman soccer field was the crowning moment of his labor of love.
For Pat O’Malley, the dedication of Girsh Park’s new Girsh-Hochman soccer field was the crowning moment of his labor of love. (Sonia Fernandez / Noozhawk photo)

Soccer fans, well-wishers and local dignitaries gathered at Girsh Park on Sunday afternoon to celebrate the opening of the park’s artificial turf soccer field.

“We believe that recreation is critical to our community’s well-being,” said Ryan Harrington, executive director of the Foundation for Girsh Park. “This facility is a symbol of healthy lifestyles, because soccer gets the kids running around, gets them excited, keeps them off the street, and they just have a lot of fun doing it.”

The ribbon-cutting of the Girsh-Hochman soccer field marked the success of a six-year effort to acquire an artificial turf field in the southeastern corner of the 25-acre private active recreation park. It is estimated that the soccer field, built to international standards, will save the popular but financially struggling park about $43,000 in maintenance costs, while raising extra revenue by allowing for more frequent play.

The idea for the artificial turf field came from Pat O’Malley, a former AYSO and adult soccer referee, who spent years researching artificial turf fields and trying to convince the park’s board of directors to invest in such a surface, and then campaigning for funds. Kim Schizas, from Wynmark Co. also put together a major effort to raise the money for the $1.25 million project.

Two years of fundraising (which is still ongoing) and several vital donations later, the park opened to an enthusiastic group of families and kids’ soccer teams that broke in the field.

Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves stands ready to
Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves stands ready to “throw out” the first ball for the inaugural soccer match at Girsh Park’s new synthetic field. (Sonia Fernandez / Noozhawk photo)
“I think you’ll agree with me that this was a good way to spend your hard-earned tax dollars,” Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves said at Sunday’s ceremony. The city of Goleta contributed $250,000 to the artificial field effort, on top of regular contributions throughout the years for park maintenance.

Local soccer fans may even get a glimpse of some Santa Barbara County vs. city of Goleta soccer action, if 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf gets her way.

“I’ve challenged the city to a soccer match, now that we know we’re not going to fall down,” she said, referring to gopher holes that plague local grass fields. “Maybe we turn it into a fundraiser.”

The turf project received major funding from Goleta, the county, the Girsh-Hochman family, Robin and Reed Cederlof, Central Coast Soccer League, Nancy and Thomas Crawford, Deckers Outdoor Corp., Granite Construction Co., Hutton Foundation, Moser Foundation, Pacific Capital Bancorp and Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Santa Barbara Foundation, Towbes Foundation, Williams-Corbett Foundation, Wood-Claeyssens Foundation and Wynmark Co.

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