By Bill DiPaolo - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Updated: 6:16 p.m. Sunday, July 5, 2015 | Posted: 5:06 p.m. Monday, June 29, 2015
The grass is planted, the walking trails are almost done and the lights are installed for night play for the planned September opening of Abacoa Community Park.
The $4 million project, started last September, includes new soccer, lacrosse and football fields. Four multipurpose fields have a total of a dozen 70-foot-tall lights that are scheduled to withstand hurricane winds.
“The grass we planted on the fields should be well-established by September. We don’t want people playing out there now because the grass would get torn up,” said Thomas Hernandez, the project engineer.
As more adults and young people enroll in community sports, northern Palm Beach County communities are building more sports facilities.
About $900,000 was spent this year toinstall artificial turf at Jupiter High School, which allows the field to be used all year. The town paid half, and school boosters raised the other half. Five new tennis courts were opened last March in Palm Beach Gardens.
Adult athletes, as well as the children who participate in cheerleading and Pop Warner football with the Jupiter Tequesta Athletic Association, are expected to get the most use out of the new 14-acre park at Fredrick Small Road and Greenway Drive, next to Independence Middle School.
“We always need more fields. Especially with the growth in soccer, football and lacrosse, it has been getting tougher to find the space to play,” said Bill Bymel, JTAA executive board director and past president.
The JTAA has about 7,500 boys and girls between preschool and high-school ages enrolled in sports programs such as soccer, lacrosse, flag and tackle football, and baseball.
Workers from Lake Mary-based Collage Design Construction used heavy machinery to tear out Brazilian pepper, melaleuca trees and other non-native plants to build the park, formerly known as South Jupiter Community Park.
Not only will the new park give athletes more space to play, but it also will provide JTAA and other athletic associations a chance to hold more events. Many events, such as a JTAA Halloween soccer tournament scheduled for the next month, help the organizations raise money for programs, equipment and scholarships. The money from tournaments also helps keep registration costs down, Bymel said.
Admission to Abacoa Community Park is free and open to the public. The expansion plans also call for:
— A 4,200-square-foot building with bathrooms, equipment storage and public restrooms.
— A mulch-covered walking trail around the park.
— 195 more parking spaces
For information, go to jupiter.fl.us