City-County Soccer Field Deal Nears Completion

By Mike Lednovich

Nassau County will contribute up to $1.7 million to help Fernandina Beach relocate the soccer fields at Ybor-Alvarez adjacent to the airport.

The county confirmed the funding for the project in a letter to Interim City Manager Charlie George.

“The Board (of County Commissioners) understands the importance of sustaining park services within Nassau County and is in full support of this joint project for the benefit of all of its citizens,” County Manager Taco Pope stated in the letter.

Last June, the Fernandina Beach City Commission agreed to partner with Nassau County to purchase 10 acres of airport property now used as softball fields in order to build the new soccer complex.

The current soccer fields at the Ybor-Alvarez Complex are on what is defined as aeronautical obligated property controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration. There is a proposal by a private company to construct airplane hangars and storage units on the current soccer field land. The FAA mandates that aviation use of airport land is the priority. The FAA land use requirement means the soccer fields must find a new location.

The estimated cost of buying the property is $1.8 million, and the estimate for design and construction of the new soccer complex is $1.3 million.

Both the current soccer fields and softball fields were constructed with about $138,000 in grants that would have to be repaid to the state.

The next step is for the city to enter into an interlocal agreement with Nassau County to pay 50% of the land purchase and construction costs.

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lucyp74
Noble Member
lucyp74(@lucyp74)
1 month ago

Since when are grants suddenly debts that must be repaid? I always thought grants were funds that were “gifted” with the intent that they did NOT have to be repaid? Especially since this field is being reconstructed elsewhere—the state should not expect any repayment due to the exorbitant costs of the NEW field. I DO hope that the name remains the same to continue to honor Mr. Ybor.

Last edited 1 month ago by lucyp74
srcocchi
srcocchi(@srcocchi)
1 month ago
Reply to  lucyp74

Often when grants are accepted they have stipulations. In the instance of the Softball fields, it was that the fields remain for a specified length of time. Since they’re being rebuilt, just moved, the compliance is met.

Betsie Huben
Noble Member
Betsie Huben(@betsie-huben)
1 month ago

Not sure I understand where the softball fields are going to next…. Can the author clarify, please?

srcocchi
srcocchi(@srcocchi)
1 month ago
Reply to  Betsie Huben

The Softball fields are being moved to MLK.

City Residents are bearing the brunt of this project. $1.7M from the City. And $1.7M from the County. So City residents pay twice.

Jason Collins
Noble Member
Jason Collins(@jc18holes)
1 month ago

After discussions with both City and County officials I was told that the ideal plan is to keep the baseball/softball fields in place and relocate the soccer fields next to them using joint City and County funds. The funds would also be used to build a nice concessions and bathroom area that would service both. The soccer fields will be moved per Federal/FAA mandate and have priority over the existing diamonds. From what I can gather this proposal is waiting approval from the Feds. Everyone is hopeful that the ball fields can be saved because there is a real need for those diamonds for both softball and baseball. Both rec leagues and travel ball programs are already having a difficult time scheduling games and practices as our population grows and baseball has seen a resurgence of growth lately, especially with the recent success of our Yulee and Fernandina teams! Please keep putting a bug in the ears of the powers that be to keep both the diamonds and soccer fields at Ybor! If I have misstated any of the information above please feel free to correct me as I am just passing on info that I have heard.